Monday, 8 September 2008

Saga of My First Blog: Part 2

Hello again. Let us continue the tale of my first blog . . .

From what I read in Web 2.0 by Solomon and Schrum, I was very interested in exploring Class Blogmeister (
http://classblogmeister.com/index.php) because according to the authors “Teachers can evaluate, comment on and publish students’ blog entries in a controlled environment.” (p. 219, Solomon & Schrum). I also wanted to check out Edublogs (http://edublogs.org) for similar reasons. I am hoping to incorporate my blog and blogging in general into my classroom teaching when I return to work in January, so these sites seemed ideal.

I first looked at Class Blogmeister and found that in order to sign up for a blog, you first have to register a classroom blog as a teacher. I’m not yet at the point where I’m ready to sign up for a classroom blog (far from it!) so I felt I should look at other options. However, I may think about going back to Blogmeister when I’m ready to share the blogging experience with my students.

I then decided to investigate Blogger. As you can tell, it’s the one I decided to use. I chose it mostly because it was recommended by two books and my instructor as a very easy blog site to use. Being a first timer, this definitely appealed to me. It was certainly as easy as the site said it would be, but not as fast, mostly because I’m picky and I read everything. When reading the Terms of Service I was a bit dismayed to read that you have to be at least 13 years of age to use the service. Obviously I will be looking elsewhere when it comes time to introduce blogging to my students. :(

As soon as I had my blog set up, I immediately set about customizing it (because I have to be different from everyone else, even if only minutely enough so that I know!) I have to admit I didn’t fully understand what a blog was until I actually set it up and looked at my first post! I was surprised to see that it looks just like a website. (Yes everyone, you can laugh. When I said I was a newbie, I wasn’t kidding!) Excited by this revelation I began to try to figure out if I could insert word files or pdf files into my posts so that I could get students to link to their course work through my blog, instead of having to set up a website also. I was again dismayed when all my attempts failed and I could not find any help links to answer my question. I will post the question to one of the help groups as soon as I have a spare moment, but this led me to check with Edublogs to see if they provided that service (seeing as they are specially designed for educators).

I surfed the Edublogs site for some time and was impressed by what I saw. I could have a blog set up for each of my students and the site's software would allow me to monitor each of the blogs. I could set privacy controls and blog parameters for the students’ blogs, monitor blog posts for content plus they have tons of other appealing features including (I think) the ability to upload various file types.

So I was absolutely shocked to find out that YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT! Tell me what cash strapped school in Canada or the US is going to approve a cost of $900 US to have up to 100 blogs (which is what I would need as I usually teach 75-80 students every year, 3 classes). I would have to write up a whole proposal just to even get considered for the money! The good thing is, they do allow you to set up a limited time free blog, but I haven't been able to access this feature of their website for some reason!

So back to Blogger for me! I edited my profile, put up my picture, added some 'gadgets', posted my second post and it all seems VERY easy! Now I’m busy trying to dream up creative ways to integrate blogging into my teaching. Like a RAFT blog where students blog as a character from Ancient Egypt, or Reading Response Journal Blogs (a J-Blog), or Virtual Literature Circles, or how about Discussion Groups set up to enhance Social Studies Debating, or a Current Events J-Blog, or a Science Experiment Learning Blog or what about . . . . . . . .

2 comments:

Joanne de Groot said...

Hi Christine,

Welcome to the blogosphere! You have had me laughing in my kitchen (luckily no one else is home) as I read your posts!

You should be able to add Word files (and PDFs, although I haven't ever tried that) to your posts...I've done it. If you can't figure it out, let me know and I'll try it out on my own blog and see how it works!

Christine :) said...

Always happy to provide entertainment! Actually its one of my secret goals whenever I communicate with others: to make them laugh, even if it means they're laughing at me! But seriously I would like a little help with the whole word file dilema. I want to be able to say to my students: "Here is the handout for Early Civilzations." and have them just click on the words "Early Civilizations" to access the word file. I have figured out that if I copy and paste the HTML garble-d-goop into my post then blogger will open the word file right into my post, but that's not really what I'm looking for either. Maybe I need to know what some of that garble-d-goop means? Any Help would be appreciated.