3/21/08 UPDATE: Has anyone used the blog function that's part of ePals? I'm checking now, it looks promising.

I've been trolling the murky waters of blog platforms and after lots of trial and error and reading of these clrm2.0 discussions I'm still having trouble finding the perfect classroom blog for not-so-tech-savvy 3-5 teachers to use with their students. Here's what I've tried and the associated issues... I'd love your input.

WordPress MU - Our dist recommends, hosts WPMU. Problem: Bar for use is too high. You have to learn quite a bit just to create the blog. Embedding lively content (flickr photos, video from teacher tube) is hard.

Blogger - Very easy to use, easy to embed lively Web content, but requires a google acct w/ email (AUP policy no-no, go with bogus email accts?) then there's the pesky "next blog" button that I still can't seem to strip out of the template even after reading lots of advice.

Classblogmeister - Nice features, including easy embedding and easy association of student blogs with the "mother" teacher blog, but there are broken bits. Can't get student blogs to show "assignment", (the prompt kids reply to), can't approve st. comments to teacher blog without all kinds of hinky duplication of comments.

Edublogs: It appears I would need the school account ($) to associate student blogs with teacher so teacher can approve posts/comments before they go live. Kids need email, too.

Drupal: Don't get me started. Beautiful, great functionality, and I'd have to hire a drupalmaster to set it up. UNLESS Nancy Bosch has easy solutions: Look at her wonderful blog. I want one that functions just like this. :)

NOW, I've heard about a closed blog system you can create and host locally, giving kids the blogging experience, all the functionality you'd really need for this age... I can't remember the platform. Ideas?

The power of blogging is so great and I want teachers and kids to experience that, but I've GOT to lower the bar for participation or it's a nonstarter.

Tags: blogging

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Have you tried www.21classes.com? You can set up anywhere up to 50 students there. The kids have found it fairly user friendly. As a teacher I can configure it in all sorts of ways (The kids need e-mail addresses, or not. The kids need e-mail addresses only from your school domain, or not, etc). I like this system.
Thanks, James! I'll check it out-- like the different administrative choices you mention.
WP is a good idea... WPMU is certainly a different beast, plugins aren't easy like in WP. I was challenged to embed (one of my favorite functions...) and I'm no genius but I like to fuss around and try a bunch of stuff to solve problems... teachers don't feel they have the skills/luxury of time for the struggle. Thanks a lot Amia.
Thanks Jane for the shout out! A former student's dad is the Drupalmeister, I hope he'll continue to take care of our blog (and host it) until I retire! If you have someone to serve it you could d/l Drupal and try it.

I'm sure you know you can remove the NEXT BLOG button from Blogger, I've read that it is and isn't against Blogger's Terms and Conditions.
Nice to meet you Nancy, I read your posts here there and everywhere.
I wonder if Blogger intentionally made it harder to remove "next blog"... I have good instructions that have me using a "template tab", where I modify code, but no such tab is apparent. Maybe it shows on another platform or browser but I gave up.
Hello Jane, I think there has been a change in edublogs in that you can use a gmail account of your own and then add each of your students, without them requiring an individual email account. You probably will have to approve the comments still. Perhaps someone else can answer that statement.
Yup, edublogs can now "Simply create blogs and usernames for your students"

Although I still push BlogMeister when I do inservice for teacher blog newbies. Yes, it has its kinks, but nothing beats its simplicity or its very supportive user Yahoo discussion group community. You can actually ask a "stupid" question and not get chastised or told to "search the forums."
I agree it has great features and is easy to use. I'm using it right now and I like how you are instantly in a community of class blogs. I haven't spent time in the discussion group (for the reasons you mention!! WP group is wayyy over my head!) but I will... Thanks for your advice.
Thanks Gordon and Anne- The edublogs FAQ lead me to my conclusion... Maybe they'll update it :). You know you only have so much time in the day to figure this stuff out-- I'm still wondering if teachers can have admin access to approve student blog posts, that's where the "buy the school version" came in... I'll require this and hope it functions like classblogmeister in this regard.
Yes, you can have admin rights to approve blog posts using edublogs. You need to link each student blog created into the "class blog." That is, create all the student blogs but never tell the students about them. Instead add them as "contributors" to the class edublog you create. Their blogs will be linked off the class blog and they post to to your class blog. You can moderate all posts since they are "contributors."

I showed teachers how to do this last summer. It's cumbersome (another reason I like BlogMeister since it just assumes you want to do this in the setup.) and edublogs may have made this better now with the link I mention above. (Haven't had time to really investigate it.) Here are the directions I wrote up last summer.
Headed to your wiki now, thanks so much. This might be the solution, though I'm pretty captivated with the ePals possibilities...
They've updated it since then, you can now batch add blogs, etc.:




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