Choosing and Creating a Blog - MacNeill

Eve Minuk and I met to set up a class blog for 2 blocks of Hum 9 that she shares with Linda Watson. The first question was "which service will we use?" Eve had a list of "gotta haves" for this project:

  • a clean, easy to navigate presentation,
  • easy to set up easy to maintain
  • no complicated password and ID management to get the students to participate
  • a way to moderate posts/comments by the kids,
  • a place to record homework
  • a place for a class scribe
  • an easy way to personalize the site
We looked at a number of offerings: Edublogs, WordPress, Ning, Blogger. I spent a couple of days also looking at, and Eduspaces.

We ended up choosing Blogger because we could get most of what Eve was looking for, without a lot of set up and maintenance issues. Eve created a "Hum Along" blog to serve her 2 classes and a second "Homework" page that feeds info to the first.

She opted to set up the following features:
A header that identified the group, (which gave us an excuse to create a contest to replace it with something created by students!)

A "blog roll" section where she will post a question of the day. - She will be asking 5-6 students per class to comment on the reflection question. This keeps the posts to a manageable level, but gives everyone a chance to participate - eventually. (She has "comment moderation" enabled so student comments do not get posted until Eve has read them first. Using the "name/URL" option, she has students give their first name + initial. (One student was very shy - we gave her the ID "Agent 59".)

Eve added the polling widget so she could get some immediate feedback from students on a content related question: Was Napoleon a hero?

We also added a Youtube widget so she could post a current event of the week for classroom discussion.

The blog also pulls the homework posts from a sister blog we set up so students would not have to check a separate blog. (We used the gadget called: "Blogger posts and categories" The gadget description says "Just enter your a blog name to display posts and labels (categories), with navigation on label. A simple way to have a blog anywhere...." [This gadget stopped working recently, and was replaced with a Tabbed news feed ]

We added a "this day in history" gadget so students could have another topic for class discussion.

Here's where we are so far: