Hi, apologies for any cross-posting!

Recognising the immense potential for blogs in schools, I asked the question 'Is there a safe, controllable blog which teachers can supervise?' I suggested the following scenario:

In particular, is there any blogging tool which can be configured to generate groups and sub-groups so that teachers could allocate students to groups for internal study purposes?

I imagine a scenario whereby I wish to divide a Business Studies class of 25 students into 5 groups which can only confer within their own group to generate a collaborative and competitive solution to a set task. I assume that I can have monitoring rights to see all the conversations.

However, another teacher in eg Technology has some of those same students in his class and similarly divides them into different groups for similar collaborative work.

Each individual child could be a member of, possibly, 10 different subject blogs of which there could be 25x15 sub-groups!

Can it be done?

John Hackett (see LL for Schools was kind enough to send me this very helpful reply:

Assuming I have understood your scenario correctly the way it could work is as follows.

- users are created by us on demand: there is no self-registration
- once created every user can create and join communities
- communities can be open, moderated or closed
- access controls can be used to define who can see any item (blog post,
file, etc.). When a user joins or creates a community an access control
is created for that user which allows them to restrict access to this
group's members to anything they post to the site.

So, in this case I would see the following meeting your needs:

- students and staff accounts created
- staff (for each subject) create their communities as moderated or private
- users are invited to join the appropriate group. (As the system is
learner centric at the moment there is no way to "assign" users to
communities but I have posted a query to the developers about this).

At this point when a student posts a blog entry (either on their own blog or into the subject community blog) they will have the three default access restrictions (private, logged-in, & public) plus one for each of the communities of which they are a member. So, or example, they can keep a diary in their own area where entries about a particular subjects are access restricted to other members of the subject group. (i.e. a single blog but where entries are restricted to the required audience). Or for some common or shared work they can post to the group's own blog.

RSS feeds can be used to alert others to news posts in particular categories.

Access rights for teachers: the site makes no distinction between staff and pupils as such. At account creation time I add staff to a sitewide staffroom community and administrators (the main school contact) to a support community. In addition all users from a particular site are added to their own school community. In the scenario you outlined as you (or other staff) will own all the communities you will have access to all the posts created within it. In addition you will have access to all public and logged_in user-controlled posts and any with community access rights (as you will be a member of these communities). If a pupil posts an entry which they mark PRIVATE then you will not be able to see it (but then nor will anyone else!).

Finally, a pupil could create a community, get others to join and make a post as available only to this group: in this case only members of this group will be able to see the post.

There is a FLAG THIS POST as inappropriate button on every post so other users can flag up to us any content they feel is not appropriate. This will be viewed and as we have full traceability of all users will be contact the site administrator and perhaps ban the user if we see fit. The schools may wish to take any other sanctions as well.

I have obtained access to the demonstration account just to get a feel of the system.

If others would be kind enough to join me at the Demonstration School we could explore the potential for class-group blogs in more detail


Ray T

Tags: Group-blogs, Safety, Schools

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My wife uses classblogmeister.com. It allows her to verify the content of each blog before it's posted to the web. Therfore, you eliminated any problems before they start. You may want to look into it. The only down side is that it takes a while for the moderator to setup an account for you. I guess he's busy.



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