I am looking for ideas -- research, anecdotes, and advice -- about how to coax my district into allowing me to set up a classroom blog. If you've had to overcome roadblocks, either with parents or school officials, would you please share your experiences with me? Thanks!

Tags: administration, blogging, challenges, internet, parents, safety

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Candace -- I reckon that communicating openly and effectively is the key to getting my way (lol) with them. Thank you for the very excellent advice and the link!
I make everything crystal clear in writing before I start any online project (blog, wiki, webpage, photosharing, posting student work, penpals, emails, etc) , get parent signatures and ask parents to join in. I have about 40 of my 60 students blogging with no complaints, so far. Also have several parents joining in. You can see our blog here. N.
Nancy -- I've seen your fantastic blog before. How I would love to be able to do one so well.

So, what do you do with the 20 who don't join the blog?
Ms. Whatsit although my district has a blanket "ban" on blogs through filtering software, they will allow sites to be unblocked, with an administrator's sign off. I'm going to attached the form. You might want to show this to the person in charge of both blocking (usually tech services/ISET) and someone from curriculum. Also, make sure the curriculum person sees some sample blogs. Do screenshots, etc. if you can't actually get on at school. Kevin H. and Gail D. can provide solid middle school examples of blogging. Get the curriculum person to be your ally, Use the form to let the tech person see they can loosen their hold on blocking, etc. and there will still be controls. Make sure that you have solid moderation practices planned for, so that you know everything that is going up (and approving it first is even better).

The next step is to have a solid permission form for parents to sign off, AND a AUP for parents/students to agree to. I'll include a copy of that as well.
Attachments:
Alice, this is great information, but when I download the documents, they aren't readable for me. Would you be so kind as to email them to me? Perhaps that will work. I'm on a Mac if that makes a difference. Thank you!
Okay, I made the mistake of sending you doc, not txt or rtf. Chalk it up to going back to school today.
Attachments:
Thank you Alice!
There are two ways to start down the classblog path. One is to use a non-blogging tool to show the value of students writing with wider audiences. If you have an email system with conferencing built in (like Firstclass) then you can mimic blogs in a safe and secure system.

Secondly, you can try a secure blogging site such as 21classes.com that is only accessible to yourself, your students and those that you give permission to see the postings.

Once you start down the blogging road - even if it is small steps, you will have the evidence to convince parents and administrators that writing is improving in quality, thinking and volume.

Kevin
I just recently learned about 21classes. I'll look into it more. Thank you!
Hi Ms Whatsit,

This page here http://education.qld.gov.au/learningplace/communication/blogs/about... has some information on blogging (positives etc) and its usage in our system's eLearning environment. It also has a link at the bottom on acceptable use which may be of use for your own policy development.

Cheers!

Adrian
Thanks Adrian! I have it bookmarked.
I have found that the blocks on all social networking sites works systemically in our state and recently I went through a very lengthly process to try and get access to a members only wiki space unblocked for a limited time only - then we found that we needed to get each page unblocked each time we created a new page. In the end we gave up trying to access the space at school and encouraged students to use it from home. We were asked by the 'system' to confine our in school activities to spaces behind the 'wall' and for example to use Blackboard which now has a wiki tool. The point with these 'safe' spaces is that nobody else can see or share the work. In future I'm thinking of setting up both kinds of spaces - one inside the wall (that can be used at school) and a members only space using a web.2.0 tool that students can use from home. But basically school access to most web 2.0 tools is extremely limited and it's just about impossible at present to challenge this. I guess we need very influential people in high places to get this on the agenda!

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