So you have decided to start blogging with your students. Congratulations! You are about to embark on an amazing learning journey.
Your first step before introducing blogging into your classroom will be obtaining permission from your school, and parents or guardians.
Ensuring you have the required permission is not only important from a legal perspective, but ensures all stakeholders are well informed and on board with your adventure.
Here is some further general advice to help you navigate the process of obtaining permission to blog with your class.
Step One: Check Guidelines from Your School District or State
Edublogs’ users come from many different school districts and states all around the world. Legal advice and requirements vary greatly. It is essential that you consult with your own individual legislation prior to commencing blogging.
The state of Victoria in Australia has their own CampusPress platform called Global2. It is managed by the Department of Education and open to all educators in state and Catholic schools.
The Global2 website has a privacy page with information for teachers and schools looking to begin a blog with Global2. They stress that fully informed consent must be obtained and advise, “You and your school community are best placed to determine how to obtain fully informed consent.” The website also includes example wording to put in an acceptable use policy note for parents.
Your own district or state guidelines may not be hosted online, like Global2. If in doubt, ask your principal or contact your Education Department and see what advice applies.
Step Two: Consult With Your School Principal
Hopefully your school principal is already encouraging you and other staff to blog. If not, it’s a good idea to seek permission and engage in a discussion about how you see blogging being used in your classroom.
If your principal is unfamiliar with blogging and you want to discuss the potential benefits of a blogging program, check out our post of Ten Reasons Every Educator Should Start Blogging. There is even a handy infographic summary which you could present to your school leaders.
When consulting with your principal about your blogging program, you might like to discuss:
How you will use blogging. A good first step is often to start with a class blog before moving on to student blogs. This approach will allow you to develop blogging skills and confidence with your students, while maintaining control over what is being published online.
Over many years of blogging with my students, the approach I personally found worked for me was:
- Set up a class blog where teachers write posts and students comment and reply to comments.
- Allow students to write guest posts on the class blog.
- Create a system where keen students can earn their own blog (I used this approach with younger students and/or when we had limited computers in the classroom).
- When we had the technology and I was confident with student blogs, we created blogs for all students as digital portfolios (this was set up once students were familiar with our class blog).
It’s important to work out what system would work for you and your students.
Why you want to blog. While there are many advantages to blogging, you may want to consider your blog vision and how you’re using technology to transform your teaching and learning.
The richest advantages of blogging often emerge when blogging is neither an add-on nor a substitution for pen and paper work. SAMR (substitution – augmentation – modification – redefinition/reflection) is a popular model to base this reflection on, but there are others as Michael Gorman recently described.
What guidelines and privacy settings you will have in place. There is a lot to think about here such as:
- Will your blog be public or private?
- Will you publish students’ photos and names? Will you match photos with names?
- Will you write posts and have students comment, or will students create posts too?
- Will you moderate all work and comments on the blog?
- How will you teach students to think before posting and prevent them from revealing personal information?
You can find more advice and examples around blogging rules and guidelines in our teacher resource section.
Step Three: Obtain Permission From Parents
You may be following a long line of bloggers at your school, or you may be the pioneer. Back in 2008, I was the pioneer and while my school had a general ‘internet use’ permission form, I didn’t think it was enough to obtain fully informed consent.
I came up with my own blogging parent permission form which has been frequently adapted by some members of our global education community over the years.
This permission form has two parts.
- An information sheet for parents so they are fully informed about the class blogging program, and
- An actual permission note for parents to fill out and return to school.
After obtaining permission I always begin educating parents about blogging. This is a crucial step in any classroom blogging program. Look out for a new post about how to inform and involve families in blogging soon.
I have included samples of my information and permission notes below. Want to use these ideas or modify my notes and handouts for your classroom use? Go ahead! I have included a CC-BY-NC license for the PDF files. Simply credit me (Kathleen Morris) as the original author and link back to my blog (http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au).
* Refer to our Educators’ Guide to Copyright, Fair Use and Creative Commons to find out more about using the work of others.
What can you add?
While it is important to ensure that you collect full informed consent before you begin blogging, George Couros points out another important reminder. Ask the students. Do they want their work and photos online? This is another thought not to be overlooked in the permission process.
How do you obtain permission to blog? Do you have any blogging guidelines, notes or resources you could share?
Leave a comment below with any questions or advice. We’d love to hear from you.