Our district just ended a subscription with Gaggle (for money reasons). We are looking into options on "replacing" it. First, we want to replace the free, safe email for kids but what this post is about is replacing the blog feature for teachers (and kids, if possible).

The options I have found are: Edublogs and Blogger.

I like both services but I wanted to get an idea of what you guys thought if you have had experience with these products. Have you run into any problems with privacy or safety?

Are there other good blogging products out there? Like I said, we are looking for a free blogging product for mainly teachers - and a student blog would be a plus. Thanks in advance!

Tags: blog, blogger, edublog, free

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Melissa, a closed network would be better than nothing but you would ignore the beauty of a wider audience.
I may have stated it wrong saying "internally". I mean, hosting it on OUR servers but it's still on the Internet. You don't have to be in our network to view it you can still view it on the Internet. Or maybe you're referring to something else?
You don't really even need much of a server to run Wordpress MU. If you have even a 3-year-old desktop computer, you can put Linux and Wordpress on it. It would probably do fine for dozens of blogs, and maybe more depending on how much traffic you're getting.

The big thing here is time and expertise, not expense. Expect there to be a learning curve, and expect to spend some time getting it to work just the way you want it. It may be best to start small, and add features and people as you gain more confidence.
I work in a large district so there would be need for a little bigger. We just purchased a server for Moodle and have gone through that so maybe that will help us if we do end up going with the Wordpress MU option on a server.
You might also want to take into account any filters you have on your campus. I know ours blocked most blogger sites I checked out last year while the edublogs all worked. That was a huge part of my reason for choosing edublogs.
As Steve mentioned earlier. With ELGG you can have your blog for logged in users - teachers - and also a community of "social" networking for students hosted on your server. We've use a modified ELGG program that our IT director has put on our server for over 2 years now and both the students and teachers love it. He has been working with the ELGG developers to make it very educational friendly.
Teachers decide if posts stay within our community or are public, but we've found students really like the authentic audience part of it. We've now added wiki pages for the teachers as an additional layer of resource.
Here's an article about it and a link to what our teachers are doing.


Here's a look at what teachers are sharing with each other, and the WWW.

Here's what some students are doing. Amazing that 2nd grade students were blogging about book reports all summer long!
The question I have (well maybe not question but the thing I am debating) is what "kind of blog" do we want for our district?

We have Moodle, which has a simple blog feature in it, and we *may* be testing out Elgg v1.0 as a staff intranet which will have a blog feature like you mentioned. What I'm debating is that the previous options mentioned are blogs WITHIN an application--therefore reducing the customization and the robost function of the "blog". Will our teachers be okay will just having a "blog feature" or will they want a real.."blog" (like edublogs, blogger-->more like a website where they have widgets, where they can change the entire layout, colors, etc.) they used to use Gaggle and I think a lot of teachers think of a blog like a website and not just a feature within a program.

I think some staff would be fine with the blog feature in Moodle or Elgg but some will want a blog blog like edublogs.

Did that make any sense? Any comments would be great :)
Out of curiosity, how have teachers used blogs in the past? What will be their purposes for blogging?

If it is to communicate with a class, Moodle might work (Do they allow comments yet? I hope Doug gave up on his stand against comments--lack of commenting was a serious drawback to Moodle blogs). If they want to share collegially, then Elgg might be appropriate (so might Moodle if you set up a class for teachers).

If they want a website, then WordPressMU would be great. One thing I like about WordPressMU is the abiltiy to install the "More Security Option" plugin which actually gives five levels of access to control configurable separately for each blog: Totally Open; Open but blocks search engines and bots; Open only to the members of the WordPressMU install; Open only to subscribers to the blog; Open only to administrators.

Another advantage to starting with teachers on WordPressMU is that it could be extended to students in the future. It also gives teachers experience with the interface of one of the most popular blogging platforms.

Moodle does not have commenting on the blogs (I believe in Moodle 2.0 this may be added).

I think Moodle will work for some teachers but some teachers will want more of a "web page". Where they can change the layout, colors, etc. WordPressMU sounds like a great option - I still have to read your previous blog posts about it.
By the way, nice examples.
Hi Melissa,

It sounds like you have many great ideas--I'll throw one more out. I used 21classes.com, which I chose because of the safety features... at 21classes.com each student can have their own blog--but they have to enter through a portal that is password protected. You have many administrative choices--which I found awesome! If you want the feature of having them available for the entire world to see, I've used 21publish--same idea--but public. Both 21classes.com and 21publish.com are free for multi-blogging communities.
oops... and I believe there is an email option, but I didn't use it, so I'm not sure how it works... Hope that might help :)



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