Setting up individual student blogs using google apps (Part 2)
Most blogging platforms including blogger will let you have multiple authors on individual blogs and set up multiple blogs with one account. On reflection this is probably the best way to set up blogs you set up the blogs and invite kids to join rather than vice versa. Some of my kids have set up other blogs but their main school one is the one I set up to them.
Log into google and then into google and hit ‘create blog’ decide which template to use and then hit ‘create blog.’ Congratulations, you have created your blog. My first blog was just a sample blog that I played around with before setting the kids up with theirs.
Once you’ve created the blog, hit on the name and then click on layout. In this area you’ll be able to decide which kind of widgets you want for your students blogs. The ’Follow this blog by email’ widget is useful for family members who might not have google accounts to get blog updates. My students really liked being able to follow their classmates blogs but google has plenty on offer and there are more on the internet. A word of caution, too many widgets makes your blog harder to read so be judicious with the number of widget you add. Be sure to save your arrangement and view your blog before the next step.
Once you’ve finished, hit save in the top right hand corner then hit template on the tabs along the side and hit the grey edit html button. You’ll get a message warning you about editing this document but hit proceed. Once you are there, hit orange save template. This file will act as a template when you are setting up your student blogs so save the file somewhere you can find it.
Now you are ready to create your first student blog.
Go back to the blogger dashboard and hit create blog. Name and address the blog and then choose a template. Hit on the name of the blog and then hit the settings tab on the side bar and then the other tab. Click on import blog link and you will come up with the dialogue box. At this point you will need to find that file you just downloaded. You might get a message saying that you are deleting widgets. Don’t worry that’s fine. Your student blog should now look like your sample blog. Make sure you hit save settings.
Other setting that need to be changed on every blog before you hand it over to the students.
Hit on ‘post and comments’ under the settings tab. Decide on who you want to be able to comment on the blog. As a lot of parents don’t have google accounts, anyone can comment on the kids blogs. For comment moderation, I’ve gone the route where posts are open for 14 days without moderation. This usually stops spammers but allows for easy access for parents. You should also add a comment message reminding the reader about good commenting practices.
You still need to be monitoring the blog commenting sections which easily done by hitting the ‘mobile and email’ tab and then putting your email in the comment notification section. You can also be notified of new posts by putting your email here. You might also want to use this box for notifications to the child’s parents of new posts for them to view. Make sure that you hit save settings before you leave the page.
Alright let’s get the kids on board!
Hit on the basic under settings tab. Then hit on ‘add author’ and send an invite to the child’s email. The child will then get an email asking them to contribute to their blog. The child has to click on the link they receive and then may be asked to set up a blogger account. All they have to do is type in their name as a username and accept the terms and conditions and they are ready to start blogging.
My students are Year 7/8 so being able to personalize their blogs was an important part of this process. During lunchtime my kids had the opportunity to take part in a ‘beautify my blog’ session where they could change the colours and fonts of their blogs. This was important for them to gain ownership over their blogs. To do this you have to grant the students admin rights. Simply click on their name and hey presto the kids have admin rights on their blogs. I let my students have a week of admin rights on their blog to personalize it. If the blogs become unreadable either have a quick fiddle or just import the template file you downloaded earlier.
I would recommend that the teacher stay as the admin on the blog as this creates a level of protection including shutting down the blog or limiting viewership if the need arises. You can also delete comments as administrator which is important if inappropriate comments are posted to the blog.