As a follow up to Question 1: A Bl-what?, Question 2: Why would I use blogs with my students? and Question 3: How exactly could I use blogs with my students? here is the post that tells you where you can go to get started.
The first thing you need to do is decide which blogging platform you will use. A blogging platform just refers to the application that is used to build the blog. I suppose you could call it a blogging ‘system’ or ‘interface’ if those terms make more sense. It’s worth checking out this article about choosing a blogging platform to understand about what aspects you might want to consider.
The most popular blogging platform is WordPress, followed by Blogger according to a poll run by Problogger. My main blog, technoLOTE is built using (self-hosted) WordPress. I find WordPress is easy to use and flexible.
Although really, if you are just starting out, it doesn’t really matter what you use. Get into something, play with it and give it a go. You will learn more as you go. I would even suggest having a couple of blogs with a couple of different platforms so you can decide what you like most. Feel free to ask other bloggers what they use and why.
Here is a list of some popular sites where you can get a free blog:
* Global Teacher – Global Teacher is run by Heather Blakey. It is a secure environment that uses the WordPress system/platform. You can have as many blogs as you like under one username. You can also attach student blogs to your blog, keeping an eye out and making sure they are doing the right thing! Most staff and students at my school who have blogs are using Global Teacher and Global Student blogs and we have been very impressed with how the system works so far. Any blog that is part of the Global Teacher or Global Student community has this sort of blog address: http://jessmc.globalteacher.org.au or http://tawney.globalstudent.org.au
* Edublogs – Edublogs is run by James Farmer. It is also run on a WordPress platform/system. This means that no matter whether you have an Edublogs or Global Teacher blog, it will look the same ‘behind the scenes’ when you are editing things and writing new posts. Many ‘edubloggers’ (those who blog about anything to do with education) use Edublogs. My other blog, The Rise of Reflection is an Edublogs blog. You can tell by looking at the blog address: http://jessmc.edublogs.org
Global Teacher and Edublogs are designed and built specifically for the education community and they each understand the need for creating a secure environment for students. It is important when blogging with students that they are reminded never to use their full names (first names or initials only), and to avoid too many personal details about themselves – like the name of their school, names of sports teams, exact addresses of places where they hang out etc. When blogging with students it is important that the teacher has some degree of control over the blogs. Global Teacher has excellent facilities for allowing you to be a added as an administrator of your students blogs.
* WordPress – WordPress is what Edublogs and Global Teacher are built on (which means they all look the same ‘behind the scenes’ when you are writing or editing. Any blog created from the WordPress.com site has this sort of blog address: http://web2telegraph.wordpress.com
* Blogger – Blogger is very easy to use and if you already have a gmail (Google mail) account you can use that to sign up for a Blogger blog. If you don’t have a gmail account, no worries at all, you can still sign up. If you have a blog with blogger, your blog address will look something like this: http://theopenclassroom.blogspot.com
Go to any of these sites and just follow the prompts to signing up. Make sure you read each step carefully, as all of them will tell you that when you get to the stage where you have to create your blog address (your blog ‘url’) you can’t change it, so choose carefully. But do remember, you can always delete your blog and start again if things don’t work out.
Before I forget – HAPPY EASTER everyone! I hope you all find some time to relax during your break.