As I look into this more, it seems the real issue is control v. cost. If you’re willing to pay a fee (or your school is), it seems that you can get a good amount of control in that you have a parent site and your students’ sites are offshoots of it which you control and moderate. That’s not to say that there aren’t sites that don’t charge, but that seems to be the real decision to make: cost v. control.

Here are some examples (some of which come from the class, some of which from Google, and some of which from this post) and some basic info (and please note that I’ve not used any of these themselves for classroom blogging; this is my way of introducing them to me and of charting their distinctions). I will also add that this is  a good introduction to creating a blog (though it doesn’t do as good a job as I would like delineating the different features of each blog or of delineating among the different types of classroom blogging (classroom vs. student, etc.).

edublog. The name to some extent says it all. Free hosting for an individual blog but $49 / year for student blogs (seems up to 50; I’d need, or at least want to think that I’d need, more). This is the link that details the advantages of edublog (over Blogger & WordPress, but to me those are different things) and delineates among the three different options. (The campus one seems intriguing; I wonder if school would pay for that subscription.)

21classes. Similar to edublog and really, given my cursory examination, no different in terms of services, but $79 rather than $49 (not sure what the extra $30 gets you).

PikiFriends. Free. Let me say that again. Free. And it seems that all of the hosting / overseeing capabilities are there. It’s billed as an EFL/ESL tool in that it is designed and maintained by two English teachers in Tokyo, presumably as a (great) way to get and encourage their students to connect with English students and practice their English. It might sound a touch too big brotherly (and of course one of the issues with any student blogging is where is that line between safety and freedom) but I’m going to request an account (you have to submit your school email, and only junior & senior high school teachers can submit) and see what it’s like.

Class Blogmeister. Seems a bit technical, or at least crowded, at first class, but purports to do what PikiFriends does above: host for free class blog sites. According to the documentation (which is not intuitively found but is under the ‘Initial Documentation’ link), a school code is provided by David, the founder / host via a PD session or a speaking engagement. I emailed him to see if I could get one, but the email was returned, so not sure what’s going on with that.

Typepad. Seems very slick via the homepage, but seems also to have no free option.

LiveJournal. Seems a slightly different approach / interface, focusing more on interaction / social networking, and allowing ‘following’ of other blogs and comments, which could be a work around for the control issue. The free account, however, seems limited in that it only allows 25 subscriptions to other blogs (and I would need more than that for my classes).

Just found this on Ontario Blogs [the link, ontarioblogs.com, seems either to be no longer working or hacked; it redirects to a cafemom site/post; and, upon reading further, it seems that indeed the site is shut down due to lack of funding]: “Ontario Blogs is a great place to start if you’re new to educational blogging. It’s run by Ontario educators. However, there are a few downsides. The biggest downside is that you’re stuck with the same theme as the Ontario Blogs site. You can’t change the theme, even if you wanted to. The second downside is that they don’t archive your student work forever. We had a classroom blog with Ontario Blogs in the 2005-2006 school year, but they took down our site. We had to rescue our student content using the way-back internet machine. Finally, only Ontario Blog users can leave comments. This means that the general public can’t leave a message or feedback.” (taken from here)

I seem to have exhausted the obvious resources. Nothing I’m loving yet. But I’ll keep looking and keep you updated.

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