Step 5 – Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts

bloggingstep5We’ve designed a series of nine steps, with how-to info, to help you with your class blogging.

This step is to add your students as users to your class blog so they can write posts on it.

Why Add Students As Users To Class Blogs?

Normally when a class blog is initially set up you’ll be responsible for writing posts, and the students respond by writing comments.

This gives you time to increase your skills while gradually introducing your students to blogging and educating them on appropriate online behaviour.

However, ultimately you’ll need to make decisions:

  • Do you want students to write posts on the class blog?
  • Do you want them to have their own student blog?

Factors you need to consider include student’s age, time and motivation.

As student’s age increases you are more likely to want them to write posts on the class blog or their own blog (i.e. as a general rule Kindergarten and Grade 1 students write comments only).

Ownership and Motivation

Ownership is an important part of blogging; as it’s an important part of life.

We all take better care of and have increased motivation when we feel personal ownership.

Students are no different from adults.

Ever tried to set up adults on a group blog?  Incredibly challenging — often one person does the bulk of the publishing!  Yet each individual happily posts on their own blog.

Time Involved

Increasing student’s blogging role increases the time spent providing guidance and monitoring their online activities.

However,  your students learn more, are more motivated and their writing improves faster.

Check out these posts by student bloggers to see for yourself:

  1. Starting Out Blogging by Abbey (12 years old)
  2. How Blogging Has Connected me to a Global Audience by Daniel (11 years old)
  3. To Blog Or Not To Blog by Sam (11 years old)

Teacher role vs Student motivation

PS You can create your own GraphJam here!

Introducing Blogging To Students

If you decide to increase your students’ blogging roles it’s a good idea to introduce it slowly in the following three steps:

Step 1 Write comments on class blogs

Step 2Write posts on the class blog

Step 3Write posts on their own student blog

What Role Do You Assign Students on Blogs?

The five roles for users you can give students on class blogs or on their student blogs are: Administrator; Editor; Author; Contributor; and Subscriber.

Deciding which role to assign them is a balance between:

  1. How much responsibility you’re comfortable with assigning your students
  2. School and District guidelines
  3. Providing them with an environment that’s motivating

If you want to approve all posts before they can be published then assign them the role of contributors.

For more info refer to Managing Students on Blogs…What Role Do You Assign Students?

Here is a summary of their differences based on User Capability:

Different roles of users on blogs

Here is a summary of their differences based on access to features in the dashboard:

Access to menu items based on user role

How To Add Students As Users To Class Blogs

There are three main ways to add users to Edublogs:

  1. Users > Add New
  2. Users > Add New Users – Edublogs Pro and Edublogs Campus only
  3. Users > Add Users or Users > Add Existing Users – Edublogs Pro and Edublogs Campus only

User menu items

Here’s a summary of what each is used for:

Summary of Tools for Adding users to blog

Please note:

  1. Add New Users is the fastest way to add students quickly to your class blog — if they don’t have a username.
  2. Add Users (or Add Existing Users) is the fastest way to add students quickly to your class blog — if have a username.

Refer to Creating and Adding Users to blog for detailed instructions on how to use each.

Student accounts and email address

An email address is required when you create student accounts — it’s important for password resets, comment moderation etc

If your students don’t have email addresses the simplest solution is to set up their accounts using one Gmail account and then add a + sign and a different number and/or letter(s) to the end of your email name for each student.

How it works is Gmails ignores anything in the first half of an email address after a plus sign.

So if you create each email with the format [email protected] all emails will be sent to the inbox of [email protected]

Please Note:

  • You must use a real gmail account– either use your own gmail account or set up a gmail account for your class e.g. [email protected]
  • This also means that if you want to moderate comments on student posts they will be sent to your email address.

Organsing Student Posts on Class Blogs

Educators new to blogging often struggle with when you write Posts as opposed to Pages.

The best way to manage your student work is they write posts and assign their name as a category to the post before they publish their post.  This makes it easy to find and manage their work.

You display the categories assigned to posts in your blog sidebar using the categories widget (here is how to add widgets).

This means when you click on the name of a student in your sidebar it’ll loads a page with all posts that use that student name as a category — check this out in action on Mr.Toft.ca!

Watch Nathan Toft’s excellent video to see how he adds students to blogs and assigns them categories!

Here is more information on:

  1. Differences between Posts and Pages
  2. Adding Categories and Tags into your Posts

Before you get them writing posts just create a category for each student as follows:

1.  Go to Posts > Categories in your blog dashboard

2.  Add the first name of your student (if necessary include initial of last name)

3.  Click Add Category

Creating new Categories

Please note:

  • Categories won’t display in your category widget until it has been assigned to a post.

About Category Parents

You use Category Parents if you want to sort your categories into groups.

For example, you might have Student as a parent category and then all Student names underneath.  Then you might have another parent category for subjects and have all the subject names underneath.

Example of organising categories using Parent Categories

Here’s how you organise categories using Parent Categories:

1.  Go to Posts > Categories in your blog dashboard

2.  Add the name of the Parent Category e.g. Students

3.  Click Add Category

4.  Now add a new category for your student by adding the first name of your student

5.  Select the desired Category Parent (e.g. Student) from the drop down menu and click Add Category.

Creating student categories under a parent category

Adding a category to a Post

Now when your students write their post it’s as simple as:

  1. Write their post
  2. Select their name as a category
  3. Click Publish post or Submit for Review

Adding Categories to a post

FINAL THOUGHTS

These steps were created as part of the preparation for the Student Blogging Challenge — the next challenge starts September, 2010.

You can read more about the Student blogging challenge here:

  1. About the student challenge
  2. Student Blogging Challenge FAQs

And here’s where you find the other steps for setting up your class blog:

Please a comment on this post if you need help setting up your class blog just — I’m always happy to help!

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74 thoughts on “Step 5 – Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts

  1. Pingback: Glossary
  2. Thank you everybody. It was nice to go through all of your comments and suggestions. I am absolutely new to edublogs and blogging in general. I am currently trying to get year 8 students to comment on their lesson progress in IT. I plan to get the year 9 and 10 use it eventually. However, I do not want to be too over ambitious. I particularly liked the comment on using a single gmail account for student blogs. Need to try that out.

  3. @mreams Logging out via the Edublogs.org homepage (http:edublogs.org) using the admin bar at the top of the page should be working.

    Another option would be to change the setting in your school web browser so that when you close the web browser it automatically clears the private data. That way you just ask the student to always close the web browser and they will be logged out.

  4. @Sue Waters — Actually logging out that way doesn’t work either. However, it seems to be an issue only with our school computers. When I work on the blog at home, I can log in or out at will. At school it doesn’t seem to matter what you do. Once the “remember me” box is checked, you need to log out, clear the internet cache, close the browser and start all over again.

    I am nowhere near tech savvy enough to know why this would be. Anyone out there who might?

  5. Kathy320 — I watched Mr. Toft’s video and it worked for me. If you don’t sign students up for individual accounts, they can still comment. Anyone can comment as long as you set it up that way. They just won’t have accounts they can sign into, create their own posts, upload avatars, etc.

  6. @hholland – For that number of students, your absolute best bet would be to see if your school or district would be interested in one of our Campus accounts (edublogs.org/campus). Another alternative for all on your own would be to purchase bulk upgrade credits that can be used to remove ads on all of your student blogs. Information on bulk upgrades can be found here: http://help.edublogs.org/2009/09/10/how-to-purchase-a-bulk-upgrade-of-edublogs-pro/

  7. Hi kathy320,

    An email address is definitely not needed to use Edublogs.

    Option 1: Create accounts using the Free box on Edublogs.org. Here, no email address is needed at all.

    Option 2: To create accounts using the dashboard tools, some email address is needed, and the gmail+ method works really well. We recommend this over no email because it allows one easy place to monitor comments and resest passwords when needed. It sounds like you may be trying to create brand new gmail accounts for each student. For this to work, you only need one gmail account and then when creating accounts on Edublogs you add the +username or any other identifier. Gmail treats these all as one account while our system treats each of these as separate email accounts.

    For example, you create one gmail account called [email protected]. Then when creating user accounts on edublogs, you use emails like this: [email protected] and [email protected]

  8. @msreams: how did you get the one gmail account to work? When I tried the + sign, I got a message telling me that the + was not a valid character to use. So I tried setting up the student accounts just using the main account I had set up for the blog, and the edublogs site told me that “that email address has already been used.”

    You’re obviously better at this than I am. Can you help?

    (I’d still like to know why I need all these accounts when the home page says, in a big medallion graphic, “No email needed!”)

    Thanks!
    Kathy

  9. I have just spent 3 hours setting up an account for my seventh-grade teacher and organizing it. I am now not going to be able to use it.

    Gmail is no longer offering that gmail+ addressing, and our students do not have school email accounts. I have no right to set up gmail accounts for them in any other way — that is entirely the prerogative of their parents.

    Your home page clearly states “no email necessary” for the free accounts, and yet enrolling requires an email address. How do you explain this?

    I have to tell you that I am SERIOUSLY annoyed at this waste of my time. I provide professional development in the technology area for my school district, and you can be sure that I will be letting everyone know about this.

    What a disappointment!

  10. Hello,
    I would like to set up a class blog for my English 10 students. I have 125 students. What kind of an account should I get?

  11. @msreams we are looking at a range of options to address this However, if you have trouble can we get you to go to the Edublogs.org homepage (http:edublogs.org) and use the log out link in the admin bar at the top of the page. This will definitely log you out fully from the account.

  12. Ah, never mind last post. I fixed it through Firefox by quickly clicking on “Never for this site.” But is it possible to make the default the unchecked box?
    Thanks.

  13. Hi, I have a big problem with the student user accounts. I set them all up as described, using one gmail address. The problem is that if anyone (including me as admin) signs in just once with the box “remember me” ticked (which is the default) then ever after that computer always brings up that users account, no matter who signs in! It doesn’t matter how many times that user logs out and unchecks the “remember me” box, it still happens.
    This is obviously a huge problem. Is there a fix?

  14. @dottschemistry there are two main reasons why they won;t have reecieved the email. Either the filter on your school email system has blocked them from being delivered or they have been sent to their spam folder.

    Can you get them to check their spam folder. If you are using gmail you need to click on the more link as the spam folder is hiden.

    The Edit link under a student’s user name takes you to their profile page. Only someone who has my access level to the site can edit a user’s profile page. The reason why that is restricted is if it was allowed blog admin users could change passwords and email addresses of other users.

    Could you email me at [email protected] if you can’t locate their emails so I can fix it for you? Can you include an alternative email address in your email like hotmail or gmail as school filter can block my replies. Thanks!

  15. Not knowing the difference, I added students as users by using “add new” and “add new users.” I expected that the kids would receive e-mails with a link to obtain a password. I made most of them “authors” with 3 (very trusted!) as “editors”. (They are high school seniors taking AP Chemistry, after all.) So far, nobody has received the e-mail, yet 5 of the students are now listed as users. Also, I clicked on one and says that I can’t edit. But it is my blog!!!

    Why did nobody receive the e-mail? Can I wipe everything out and start over adding users? (I only have 15 AP students.) Suggestions?

    I have student names and e-mail addresses.

  16. Hi. I recently subscribed to edublogs pro. i created all of my student blogs, each with their own username, website, email, etc…however, when I went to one of their admin pages, all of the pro themes are unavailable to them and it shows that they must pay for them. Obviously I have done something wrong, but can you please explain what? Thank you!
    Miss A

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  18. First impressions can be quite important.

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  19. I added 28 students to this blog via Users>Add New and the Users>Add New Users. When I click on Users>authors and users, only 10 are showing. But when I try to go back to add the 18 who are not showing up, it tells me that their usernames and/or emails are already taken. I simply don’t know whether these 18 will have received notification emails when I walk into class tomorrow, or not. And I don’t have a clue why they aren’t showing up with the other 10 students when they were added at the same time. This process took all afternoon when I was counting on 30 minutes and I’m left completely flummoxed and confused. Can you advise, please?

    1. @lesliethompsondesign, Add New and Add New Users both work differently.

      Add New Users works by adding new users in batches of 15 to the blog. The Users are immediately added to the blog.

      Where as Add New is designed to create and add one user at a time. However, this user isn’t added to the blog until they click on the activation link in the email they are sent. So until those students who were added using Add New click on the link they won’t be added. Please note you only have 48 hours for them to click on the link to be added.

      The other thing you need to be careful of is the filters on institutional emails often block emails. If they don’t receive the email you will need to recreate their account using an alternative email address.

      1. @Sue Waters,
        Thank you for your quick reply. The students all seemed to get their invitation and so all is well. I still don’t understand why some were shown as users, even before being invited, while others were not, but no worries.
        Now all I have to do is figure out how to change my avatar name from my first name to Ms. Thompson on comments!

  20. Hi Sue,
    I’m planning on setting up blogs as extension work for some of my more able Year 3 students. I’ve tried to set up the gmail + accounts as described but am getting the following message:
    Sorry, only letters (a-z), numbers (0-9), and periods (.) are allowed.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    Cathy

        1. @Cathy Vivian, when you say Gmail set up page are you talking about creating an account with Gmail and you are seeing that message when you try to create a gmail account?

          Or when you are signing up for a blog on Edublogs using the Blog & User creator (or our sign up page?) you are seeing that message?

          1. @Sue Waters,
            Ohhhh – the penny has just dropped! Feeling bit thick here. Was trying to create the different accounts in Gmail, but I don’t need to, do I? Put it down to holidays & brain not quite in gear.
            Thanks, Sue.

  21. I hadn’t thought about giving students their own category to help with organizing and grading the blog posts. I have my students blogging about the concepts they are learning in algebra (carralgebra1.placeritajhs.org). I originally had students just commenting on my blog posts (carralgebra1.edublogs.org). I do find that having students write their own posts and having other student comment on those posts adds to the dialogue and thought process the students need to go to. I changed from edublogs to my own site just to have a bit more control over the blog. Plus, I was having trouble with students signing up for edublogs and adding them to my blog. I think it was a matter of not knowing enough on my part. I may go back to edublogs next year. I have not decided yet.
    The graphic you have about the differences in blog roles was greatly helpful. I have my students as “authors” right now. I’m thinking of changing student roles for next year.

    1. @redbeard9, sorry about the troubles you were having. To be honest if you are dealing with a large number of students your best option on Edublogs is to use an Edublogs Campus site. It gives you far more control and ability to manage the students,

      Be careful with the roles because we have made some adjustments to what contributors can do on Edublogs.

      1. @Sue Waters, I’m a bit limited about the amount of money my school will spend on this. That is why I went with my own server to host my blog. If I can encourage other teachers at my school to have students blog about their various subjects Edublogs Campus may be a viable option. Since I have an Edublogs Pro account I may switch my main blog over to the the one I will have have for my classes. Like I said, I’ll think about it and make a decision over the summer.

        1. @redbeard9, I totally understand regarding money and it really was a case of if you are dealing with lots of students (as opposed to a class with 30 students) than from a management and control point of view on Edublogs.org then Campus is the better option.

  22. Sue,

    What about those of us on campus? I want my kids be registered and to comment on other class blogs, most of those are on edublogs.org, but if I register them on our class blog will they not have an edublogs account?

    1. @alicemercer, I’m not quite sure of the question?

      For the student blogging challenge they can use any blogging platform and don’t need an Edublogs.org account. Any blog taking part in the challenge will need to use a public blog and allow comments from anyone.

      If you want them to have a globally recognised avatar then you just need to get them to create a gravatar.

  23. Sue,
    I have used my nephew as a test to set up my first student blog. His blog is working at wk4nyy.edublogs.org, but how do I instruct him to login. I never issued him a password. I have searched but cannot find the answer. Please help.

        1. @msprinkle, Excellent news. More importantly it is a good approach to it — it is all about taking your time and as Kathleen says working out what works for your situation!

  24. Thanks for such an informative post Sue! As I teach a Grade Two class, I’ve always felt I am borderline between having students simply comment and allowing them to write posts independently. I always follow the 3 steps that you suggested of commenting on the class blog, posting on the class blog and then moving onto having an individual student blog.

    In my class “posting on the class blog” can mean helping me to write a post using the IWB or independently writing up a post on using the classroom computers. In my experience, not all of my Grade 2 students would be able to do the latter but I do like to provide this opportunity to my more capable students. When students do write their own posts I just have them use our regular log-in and tick their category name to identify their post as their own. I don’t tell them the username and password, I just log in for them. Maybe this year I will add some students as contributors as you suggested.

    As for setting up individual student blog, last year I helped one student do this (http://rileyc.globalstudent.org.au/) due to his competence and huge enthusiasm for blogging. Maybe this year I’ll be able to help more of my Grade 2 students set up their own blogs too.

    It’s all about figuring out what works best for you and your class!

    1. @Kathleen, I totally agree “It’s all about figuring out what works best for you and your class!”

      I think in your case using the regular log in with the categories is definitely that way to go. It’s all about giving them the opportunities that motivate them while meeting their individual skill levels.

      Riley’s blog is coming along really well. I will be interested to see if he joins us with the Student blogging challenge. I’ve left a comment on his blog!

    1. @JohnMcLear, thanks John for sharing the link for individual student accounts.

      And also the timely reminder about student email addresses. It is such a commonly asked question I can’t believe I didn’t cover it in this post – so have now added it in.

    1. @iseroma, Good question. You definitely don’t have to however I copied how Nathan Toft organises his students as I liked the idea of numbers at the front. It must appeal to how my mind works 🙂

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