Teachers across the educational landscape are turning to Kidblog as the desired platform for safe student expression. Created by a teachers, for teachers, Kidblog provides students the ability to have a voice in the world while also providing students the opportunity to have an audience for their voice.
There are many sides to the argument of student blogging and students working in a digital environment.
- How to keep the students safe?
- How to keep the teacher and school district safe?
- How do we foster a safe social media environment in our schools that will lead to students being responsible outside the classroom?
What is a Blog?
A Blog, by definition is a diary. In it’s elementary form, a blog is a digital place for one person to share their thoughts, feelings, and hopes for the world. However, in today’s digital world, a blog can be a powerful educational tool that not only transforms the assignments you give in your classroom into powerful vehicle for communication, but also provides a much needed stepping stone for your students to potentially reach out into the world and find a voice of their own.
How do Blogs work in the classroom?
In it’s simplest form, teachers around the world turn to blogs as a way of students expression. They give their students a weekly assignment to blog about their thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes about the world. The trick to blogging it to step out of the traditional term “blog” and move into your class blog into a multimedia communication tool that allows the students to be in drivers seat of their own digital portfolio.
Where do I go to start my students blogging?
One of the best known blogging platforms today for students is KidBlog. The brainchild of teacher Matt Hardy and programmer Dan Flies. Formed in 2007, Kidblog was created to foster proper writing habits in Matt’s classroom. Matt and Dan are truly the Kings of Educational Blogging. They are also two of the nicest and hardest working young entrepreneurs you will ever meet. I recently sat down with Matt and Dan to record a TeacherCast Podcast on on blogging and was instantly hooked and inspired to give KidBlog a try.
How does KidBlog work?
Teachers can create a FREE Kidblog account that gives their classes access to the Kidblog platform. Because Kidblog is built on the popular WordPress platform, the signup is simple and very easy to do. The user section and administration environment in Kidblog has been created with safety in mind. Teachers can either create an account from scratch, or can connect their Kidblog account to their Google accounts.
From this point, teachers create their classes and set up their individual student blogs.
As you can see from the photo below, the Kidblog environment is clean and welcoming. The administration panel differs slightly between the teacher and student accounts. Teachers have the ability to create blogs, change themes, change blog settings and serve as a content filter by approving exactly what gets posted live on the site.
The Dashboard is the heart of all WordPress Blogs. It is your landing page that welcomes your students into the world of blogging. The top of the dashboard contains links to the varous componenst of Kidblog. I must pause here and give a big round of applause to Kidblog for creating such an easy to navigate environment for students. Traditionally, a wordpress blog looks very similar to the Kidblog Dashboard. However, in order to create an environment that is simple and easy to navigate, the Kidblog Dashboard has been designed with these buttons on the top, rather than down a left hand column. Well done Kidblog!
The New Post opens up the post editor. To create a blog, simply add a title and start writing. Kidblog provies classrooms a powerful blogging platform for students to not only share their thoughts and ideas, but also to publish an enormous amount of multimedia. Because the Kidblog editor is translating content into HTML, it is easy to embed a YouTube video, Google Doc, SlideShare project or anything other part of the internet that offers an enbed code. The Publish panel on the right side offers several options. Depending on the settings that are customizable by the teacher account, students can save their blog for future editing, or click to publish their blog. Teachers can determine in the settings panel if the blog post goes automatically live or gets sent to a folder for content approval.
Drafts awaiting approval from your students will land in the Review Blog section. (This will not be seen on the student screens) Teachers have the opportunity to view, correct and grade their students blog posts. They can then choose to publish them live to their class blog, or send them back to the students for future editing.
The commenting system in Kidblog is truly one of the hidden educational gems. The art of teaching students how to constructively reading, and commenting on a peers work is a critical skill required for all bloggers. Through the settings panel, comments can either get posted live or be set for approval before publishing. There are dozens of blog posts floating around the internet on how to teach students “commenting etiquette.” These posts are highly recommendable as reading material when jumping into Kidblog.
Teachers wil use the Users section to add their students names and profiles. Most teachers at this point have their own system for student identification. It’s best to check with your administration to get permisison on this section. Some blogs feature full student first and last name. I have also seen First Initial and Last name. The User section provides the teacher with a full menu of student activity by displaying the students custom avatar (photo) and the number of posts and comments the student has created.
This is the tab where teachers and users can set up their individuality to Kidblog. Passwords can be changed and user avatars can be added. Users also have the ability to change the theme of their individual blogs by using one of the many provided themes.
Add New Users
Many teachers have questions about keeping student data safe. Kidblog has thought of everything! The only info that teachers need when creating student accounts is a desired user name and a password. This not only eliminate the need for sensitive student data, but also gives the teacher complete control over what gets posted online.
Looking for safety? Looking for student security? Looking to go to sleep at night knowing that nothing will get posted on your class website that you will need to explain in the morning? Kidblog has you covered!
The settings tab is the brain and powerhouse behind your class blog.
- Class Title: What do you want to class blog
- Class URL: Create a simple address for your students to remember
- Class Signup Code: A registration code for your students to easily sign into your blog
- Theme: Choose an overall theme for your Kidblog site
- Timezone: Choose your current timzeone
- SSL Login: Used only if you wish to have added blogging security (best to leave this one alone)
- Mobile Publishing: Choose if you want to give your students the power of mobile blogging
- Date Format: Choose how you want the date displayed on your blog
Updates??? Yeah… They have Updates!
Kidblog recently went throgh a major facelift. These improvements are a a great addition to what was an already stable and fantastic educational tool. These updates are sure to keep your students moving forward in todays mobile classrooms. Some of these great features include:
- Google Signups/Logins
- Signup Codes
- Private Comments
- iPhone/iPad App (Coming September 2012)
- Media Uploads
- Privacy Settings
- and much more….