I have met several teachers and schools who have tried their hand at blogging with pupils . Often, sadly to say, unsuccessfully. Listening to these teachers and what they have to say about their blogging experiences, leads me to believe that to successfully start blogging in a school, there needs to be 3 Ps in place.
The first of these ‘P’s is purpose. There needs to be a purpose for the blogging. It simply does not work if you just want to try it out to see how it works. There really does need to be a purpose and that purpose needs not to be a purpose for you as a teacher or school but a purpose for the pupils. Nothing will fail quicker than blogging if the pupils cannot see a purpose in it.
So what purpose could you have? Well, let’s be honest, there could be many. I would suggest tying the blogging in with some of the work or topics the pupils will be studying or opening it up to the pupils to write about any interest they may have.
Are you going to have a class blog or individual pupil blogs? There is a place for both but I would always suggest having both; the advantage of having pupil blogs is that it gives them a sense of ownership. If you do have individual blogs then it helps each pupil to work within their own interests and find a purpose for their own blog.
If you decide to have a class blog, then you may have to accept that some pupils may contribute more than others and the purpose of the blog will have to be clear to all your pupils. Of course, you could always use your class blog yourself and add in or link to special posts made by pupils in their blogs.
The second P, I’d say would be people. There is little more disheartening for a new blogger than to find that nobody reads your blog posts. Attracting an audience and having them comment on your blog is a lifeline for many bloggers and encourages them to write more.
In setting up a blog, think of your possible audience; these are people. Try to think what you might want to say to them and what they might gain from reading your blog(s). Think also of what you might want to gain from the audience and how you might gain it, via comments or polls or other types of interaction.
I have already mentioned comments a couple of times in this section. I believe that comments are the lifeblood of blogging. Comments appear vital for pupils to keep writing in their blogs and to develop their skills and styles. Comments indicate that your blog is being read and you have an audience.
Even before you start to write your own blog or before you get pupils to write blogs, I’d suggest you take a look around other people’s blogs and get the pupils to leave comments or to think what comments they might like to leave. This way, the pupils get an understanding of comments, how to write posts that invite comments and how or what not to write in a comment.
On this point, I would heartily recommend the site quadblogging.net to all teachers looking to start out in blogging in school. It is an excellent site and scheme to give blogs an audience for young school bloggers.
The third P would be platform. What blogging platform would you use? I appreciate, many of you may not have a choice in this but, if you do, choose carefully. I deliberately put this third because there is a temptation to put this first, which is probably a mistake.
WordPress is far and away the leading blogging platform, it has a lot of tools and facilities and you can add more by using available plugins. Will you always need all its sophistication, though? Will you have the time to maintain updates to WordPress?
May be not. So there are other tools around, some of which may be specially created for use in schools, such as RadioWaves(or MakeWaves), which allows blogging not only by text but also using images, video or audio recording.
So there you go, my 3p worth on blogging in school. If you do start blogging in your school or class, good luck and keep at it because I feel sure it will be worthwhile.
- The State of Educational Blogging in 2012 (theedublogger.com)
- Blogging (wordfondancy.wordpress.com)
- UK Education Blog Awards 2011 (olliebray.typepad.com)
- News from Creative Blogs (creativeict.typepad.com)
- The Power of Blogging (bettsrecruitment.wordpress.com)
- Teachers and learners share Education Blog Awards (agent4change.net)
- UK Education Blog Awards 2011 – The Winners (olliebray.typepad.com)