As we’ve finished looking at a few of the free blog options – let shift our focus to educational focused ways to connect with your classroom. First we’ll start with Schoology.
June 27th – Schoology
Schoology is a pay for service which your school would need to sign up for. With that being said, it’s one of the better, if not best, LMS (Learning Management Systems) available. The look is clean and it’s made for teachers by teachers so the mindset is very connected to what a student needs.
I’ve used this product at past schools, we don’t have an account to check the most updated features, but it’s certainly worth checking out the demo and having a conversation with your Technology Department/Director of Technology to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Schoology has a YouTube Channel with plenty of demo videos and helping guides. As well as the inspiring video below.
Tumblr is another CMS blogging site, but is also known for “microblogging” or short little post that take no time at all to read.
June 26th – Tumblr
What makes Tumblr different is the “microblogging” aspect and how it’s meant for quick little hits of information. The site also directs you to things you are interested in (you select those at the beginning) and you see those things as our main screen.
As you start you’ll notice very quickly that all the other “blogging” websites we’ve looked at are text based with the ability to add videos and images. Tumblr ask first and then the “Text” field, if chosen, is very small – forcing you to rethink your post.
Tumblr setup with your interest
Tumblr Dashboard with my interest selected (The broken link is an Instagram post which is blocked at my place of work)
Small Text field
Tumblr shows the flexibility of the Internet to its fullest extend. Quick little bites can reach more people and help your overall branding. In a classroom setting this forces you to be clear and concise with your thoughts – which is not always a bad thing.
Sometimes you have more to say. I’ve never gotten into Tumblr because I’m long winded (not entirely joking) but I feel that my audience is looking for something more. If I was focused on by GIF’s for helpful shortcuts – Tumblr would be perfect. So think about your audience and what they are looking for too. Tumblr’s format also makes it more accessible to young people which are generally looking for entertainment rather than knowledge.
After spending “A Week With” WordPress, I’ll introduce you to a few more CMS (Content Management System) websites. Up first, Blogger.
June 25th – Blogger
Blogger was an independent company until Google purchased in 2003. Blogger was one of the first services that you could “blog” on and that is why most of the domain URL’s are “blogspot”.
Blogger is very simple to setup. Once logged into you Google account, visit blogger.com and it will ask permission to use services. Then you are tossed into the Dashboard where you can add a new post.
This looks like any word processor you’ve ever used. That’s a huge bonus for those people who are nervous about making the jump. Everything is pretty simple and straight forward, inserting images, making anything bold, italic or underlined, etc… Having and working off of that base knowledge is a great help to those trying for the first time. Blogger also has an easy toggle between the “Compose” and “HTML” views which help for those interested on what goes on behind the scenes. The stats page is very helpful as well – seeing the location of those viewing your blog and the frequency which they view.
The websites are a template which all kinda look the same. You could spend a lot of time with work arounds and figuring out your own code, or just jump to a Wix, Weebly or Squarespace for a more professional look.
My final post, but certainly not everything you can do with WordPress.com, is about WordPress.org for those of you who want a little more control.
June 24th – A Week With WordPress
The final day with WordPress focuses on expanding the WordPress universe to WordPress.org which gives users/bloggers more control over the look of their blog. Wordpress.org is a service which you need to find your own host, download and install the software and then read up on the documentation to maximize your WordPress.org blog.
What is great about the WordPress.org platform is that a lot of major companies use it. You might have noticed when you are logged into your WordPress account and surfing the web, some major websites have the WordPress banner across the top of the page. These companies are using a very similar CMS (Content Management System) as you – and that’s pretty cool. The WordPress.org website has a lot of helpful documentation and their are plenty of other resources – and like everything else on this blog, it’s worth a try!
One of the most powerful things about WordPress (and possibly other website creators) is the ability to have more than one person post, and give everyone different roles.
June 23rd – A Week With WordPress
In my former school, I setup and online blog that students could write about whatever they wanted – the goal was to get them to write and reflect on their work, therefore improving their writing. In worked, really well in fact. I had them write a simple 2-3 paragraph piece a week, then one “personal piece” which the rough draft was due as the mid-term and then they had to go through a couple re-writes and peer reviews for a well polished piece for the final. When students left the class they had an online portfolio of growth in their writing along with a personal piece that they researched and was very polished.
This was only possible because of the additional collaborators tool that WordPress provided. From the dashboard on the left hand side you can add “Users” which you invite by email and give them different roles.
The roles include Follower, Administrator, Editor, Author and Contributor. You can see the details of those roles above, but for mine I used the contributor and then the students couldn’t publish anything directly, but alerted me when they had something to publish. I attempted to push them to write so much that we had 5-6 articles everyday. It was pretty amazing and something I’d suggest in your classroom.
Once we’ve gotten our content on the page and added the post to our Twitter feed, let’s discuss how to manage all that in the “universe of content” I mentioned in the last post.
June 22nd – A Week With WordPress
Management in a blog is key. You want people to visit your site and stay, check out different things you’ve written and check out your thoughts, but people don’t have time to just search around anymore. Using the Categories and Tags greatly helps others to navigate your thoughts gives them a means to be focused and keeps them coming back.
Once you’ve thought long and hard about when to post – now let’s think about ways to further your reach.
June 21st – A Week With WordPress
While you have decided on a time to post, you can now start thinking about the reach of your particular post. When I mentioned “advanced posting” I meant “posting with purpose” and looking at a few of the different options you have to post with.
Skip the “Categories & Tags” section, we’ll cover that in “organization” and look down at “Featured Image”, “Sharing” “Post Format” and “More Options”.
When posting with multiple media images, this helps you select the one you want to be seen before people click on your article. You can also include images that aren’t in your post – but why do something like that?
Under sharing you’ll see the ability to connect your: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Path accounts, then an option to add/change buttons for sharing. With the connected services you can also change the message posted to your social media feed to include hashtags and other things that might help people find your blog (I do this on occasion – and I only forget to because I’m a little lazy).
Post Format gives you the ability to pick what you post is, which helps you organize and style your website.
The slug is the ending part of the URL that your page officially links to. Since I have a post a day, I always make sure it says the correct date then the title (which is default). More options also allow for an Excerpt, Location Services and Discussion to allow comments and Pingbacks (links within your blog that links to past blog post). Pingbacks are helpful to create the “universe of knowledge” all within your site – and people then start to think “This person has all the answers – I’m going to frequent this post a lot”.