What You Wanted To KNOW About Student Blogging

Sue Waters and Richard Byrne at ISTE unpluggedRichard Byrne and I co-hosted an ISTE Unplugged session on blogging at ISTE 2010 in Denver.

Thanks to everyone who submitted their blogging questions and here’s my responses — for those who were unable to attend!

I’ve focused my responses to student blogging and will do a follow up post on the general blogging questions.

What sort of rubric do you use for blogging?

There are opposing opinions on whether you should or shouldn’t use a blogging rubric; and if you do use a rubric how you would use it.

Konrad Glogowski’s posts are a ‘must read’ to appreciate the need to move the emphasis from grading to focusing on blogging conversations:

For examples of blogging rubrics check out:

  1. Clarence Fisher’s Blogging Rubric
  2. Ryan Bretag’s Blogging Rubric post and Blogging Rubic

How do you have students blog for homework if they do not have access to the internet or a computer (in a poor, rural area)?

Steven Anderson covered this during our session by explaining how his schools provide open lab computer access for students without access at home.

What I didn’t have time to mention is some are using alternative approaches to providing a solution.

For example, in Scott Newcombe’s School District they are providing students with mobile phones which could be used for mobile blogging.

To moderate or not who has the time?

Educators have differing opinions on moderation and use two main approaches:

  1. Students are allowed to publish own posts and approve all comments
  2. Students posts and comments aren’t published until approved by a teacher

Normally those that moderate are either required to by School and/or District policy or are concerned by the risk of inappropriate content being published.

Here’s how you moderate all comments and posts on student blogs — if you need to/want to take this approach.

Those that don’t moderate all comments and posts generally spend a lot of time educating their students about blogging processes and appropriate online behaviour.

It’s common with this approach to see students’ slowly progress from writing comments on the class blog to publishing posts on the class blog to eventually having their own blog.

Good practice with this approach is to monitor all comments and posts from student posts using Google Reader — here is how you do this.  Google Reader makes it easier to monitor all the student content and if necessary deal with inappropriate content.

Could people please share ways to increase the audience for their students’ blogs? Students are excited and motivated when they begin blogging – but without a real audience, excitement and motivation begin to diminish.

What can we do to increase readership?  How can a student blogger attract more readers?

Realizing that your blog is being read by a global audience and receiving comments from readers in other countries is highly motivating for student bloggers.  It encourages them to blog and improve their writing.

Here’s examples of how you can help your students attract more readers:

1.  #comments4kids

The #comments4kids hashtag is used by educators to tweet student posts that deserves to be commented on such as a post that is awesome or student that needs encouragement.

Here’s more information about #comments4kids:

  1. #comment4kids Wednesday
  2. Comments4kids wiki

2.  Student blogging challenge

The Student Blogging Challenge is run twice yearly starting in March and September.

It runs for 10 weeks where students are given weekly task designed to improve their blogging skills while connecting them with a Global audience.

I’m wondering how best to create a scenario in which students blog 3-4 times per week, but also a site that will work as a legitimate social network for the course as well (groups, pages, etc.).

What’s the best way of going about putting together such a network?

BuddyPress is one of the best ways of transforming a fully functional blogging platform into a social network.

BuddyPress is a suite of plugins for WordPress that transforms into a fully functional social network platform.  It is very similar to using a Ning site, except BuddyPress doesn’t have Ning’s blogging limitations as it’s a multi-blogging platform environment integrated with a fully functional social network platform.

Here’s more information on BuddyPress:

  1. The BuddyPress Manual
  2. WordPress as a Learning Management System – Move over, Blackboard

Check and try a BuddyPress site for yourself here!

Final thoughts

Thanks to Richard Byrne for co-hosting this session with me.  Special thanks to Kim Caise for all her hard work supporting ISTE Unplugged and to Paula Naugle for giving permission for us to use the photo.

Thanks again to those that submitted questions via our Google Form. Apologies but I’ve left one question on student blogging for another posts as I’d love to hear others thoughts on it.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

  1. What did I miss in my responses?
  2. Do you have any other questions on student blogging you would like answered?
  3. Remember I will be doing a follow up post on the general blogging questions — so please leave a comment with any questions you would like answered.

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43 thoughts on “What You Wanted To KNOW About Student Blogging

  1. Rats! Two links expired August 16th (apparently). They are the two references above as

    Clarence Fisher’s Blogging Rubric
    Ryan Bretag’s Blogging Rubric post and Blogging Rubic

    Thanks!! I am enjoying this article!

  2. Thank you for this informative blog! I am just beginning this journey and it was also great to hear questions and answers from other readers as well.

  3. @misskittie I agree with Will that teachers should become involved with blogs personally prior to introducing them into their instructional program. Ideally personal blogging, reading other people’s blogs and commenting prior to student blog.

    I hold similar viewpoints with any online tool we use with our students, You first have to experience how it changes your own learning to appreciate how to structure it to empower student learning.

    You are more likely to succeed if you take this approach. However, I know of some really successful programs where teachers haven’t been personal bloggers and have gained the experience by starting slowly using a class blog and gradually gain the skills. Especially those that connect with other class blogs.

  4. @Ray Tollley, we are now seeing the more coordinate approach on Edublogs Campus sites where students will have the one blog that they use for all subjects and it is used by them as they progress through the years. This is because Campus users tend to take a more institutional approach as to those using Edublogs.org blogs who use a more blog per class approach.

    Using this approach they can use Categories and tags on posts to sort them via Subject and year level.

  5. Sue, thank you for your article, ‘What You Wanted To KNOW About Student Blogging’, and in particular the links to the work of Konrad Glogowski. I can see the point of a student making the effort to design a blog on a particular topic. (I’ve been blogging for several years on the single topic of ePortfolios.) However within Secondary education, pupils might be following up to 15 different subjects. In this situation I cannot visualise every child in a class EACH generating 15 different blogs.

    If, on the other hand, each child was to maintain only one blog it would be far too easy for peers or permitted audiences to move off topic and follow several other different strands – as so often happens even in adult forums used by us professionals!

    Glogowski appears to be dealing with older students following a single course of study and in this case the blog is a central tool in the collaborative learning process. In such a scenario I have no problem with using a blog.

    The issue, for me, therefore becomes one of deciding whether the blog is a realistic tool for ALL subjects (which I believe it is). At one time we were concerned that children might experience ‘death by a thousand worksheets’ or more recently ‘death by a thousand PowerPoints’. So, if we are to avoid ‘death by a thousand blogs’ what do you suggest?

    Best Wishes,
    Ray Tolley
    ICT Education Consultant Maximise ICT Ltd
    Winner of the IMS ‘Leadership Regional Award 2009’

  6. You make an important point when you state that “often the most successful student blogging programs are coordinated by teachers
    that have been doing it for several years.” Will Richardson, in his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (2010) also stresses that teachers should become involved with blogs personally prior to introducing them into their instructional program. While it might mean creation of a personal blog, it doesn’t have to. Instead, reading and posting comments to an existing blog, or subscribing to an RSS feed to support learning about something in which we are personally passionate about, can help educators to “experience the connections that come after the work is published and shared” (Richardson, 2010, p. 9). I am certainly finding this true personally. I have begun a masters program on integrating technology into the classroom in which we are currently exploring blogs. Up to now, I have had very little experience with blogs and, therefore, have no real idea of the potential pedagogical implications. As I am venturing into the world of blogs, I am beginning to develop some foundational understandings about how they work to support learning. As part of this process, I have really appreciated your postings which answered common questions about blogging and gave step-by-step instructions for setting up classroom blogs. I am looking forward to reading more of your discussion topics.

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