Blogging is a more complex technological issue than I had anticipated. I assumed going into the course that I had a base plan and that I needed some tweaking and tidbits. Instead, I realized how complex the genesis of blogging can be, beginning with the different types of blogging-hosting options. Of all of the options presented in the course, I narrowed it initially down to Kidblog and Pikifriends. I looked into Edublogs, and considered WordPress and Blogger, but I wasn’t comfortable leaving students with so much freedom / lack of supervision initially (though more on that below). I did just see this post on Posterous Spaces, newly purchased by Twitter, that allows students to email posts to your blog. They don’t have their own blogs, but the two goals of posting student work / thought in a public (blog) forum and of having those posts moderated are accomplished. I’ve not looked into it yet, but it has some potential.
At any rate, I created a blog on Kidblog (both a test blog and a a blog for my College English 4 class) and I requested access to, and was granted access to, Pikifriends. I’ve not yet set up the account there, but I will. I suspect that I will use different platforms for different classes so that I can compare them and chart their relative merits and demerits.
I’m still torn about the issue of freedom. On the one hand, especially with my seniors, I feel like they should be able to handle the freedom of their own blogs without me moderating everything that they do. On the other hand, I can’t guarantee that they can handle that freedom, and without that guarantee, I’m not sure I want to allow them to do that. The solution here might be a set of clear, specific guidelines regulating the use of an in-class blog. There are a number of examples out there, which I included in a previous post, and I’ve been trying to cull them and reorganize them into my own regulations. I’ve pasted them here (the quoted portions are from http://mscofino.edublogs.org/2009/09/06/student-blogging-guidelines/; the unquoted portions of them are my additions / changes).
Rules and Guidelines for Student Blogging
• You are expected to abide by these rules guidelines when blogging on your class blog.
• Violation of these rules and guidelines will result in anything from lack of credit for your entry to administrative involvement.
• I have divided the rules and guidelines into digital categories both to organize them and to help you understand the different digital arenae in which you function (whether blogging or not).
• The categories are taken from the New South Wales Digital Citizenship site (http://www.digitalcitizenship.nsw.edu.au/index.htm).
– “Use appropriate language and proper grammar and spelling:” would I submit this post to be graded for its syntax or to a prospective employer as a demonstration of my ability to write?
– “Only post information that you can verify is true (no gossiping)
– “Only post things that you would want everyone (in school, at home, around the world) to know: is this something I want everyone to see?”
– “Do not share personal information: could someone find me (in real life) based on this information?”
– “Consider your audience and that you’re representing [WHS]:” will this bring any unnecessary negativity to Wayland High School, its faculty, staff, or students?
– “Think [and breathe] before you post: what could be the consequences of this post?” should I wait and reconsider after some time has passed before posting this?
– “Know how to give constructive feedback:” what is the reader taking from or how useful to the reader is my post / response?
– “Treat other people the way you want to be treated: would I want someone to say this to me?” or could I understand how someone would not want it said to them?
Some of the differences / changes I’ve introduced are the organization of the guidelines into categories. These are important both for visual effect (i.e. how it appears to the reader and a quick glance) and for organizing the information for students. I’m hoping that a document such as this will allow me to allow students to have their own blogs, and for me not to have to police / oversee every aspect of their blogging. I want them to be safe, and the people they interact with to be safe, but I also want them to feel in control of their blog, both in terms of appearance and content. I also don’t want to be inundated with approval emails.
So, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being completely prepared to launch this, I’m probably around a 7 (maybe a 6 on a bad day). Going into the course, I thought I was a 5 or 6, but after a couple of hours quickly realized I was a 2 or 3, so being a 7 (or 6) doesn’t seem too bad at this point. I have to firm up the regulations / guidelines, decide on a platform (or which classes will use which platform) and, ultimately, as with most things educational, jump in and be prepared to address shortcomings and assess the plan as a whole.