A handful of children now have their Glow Blog username and password. These were sent home along with a covering letter explaining what Glow is and the potenial benefits of Glow blogs. Before issuing the passwords etc., the blogs were customised for safe use (well, as safe as possible without compromising on the gains).
The changes included:
- Ensuring that all the blog URLs began with cps (Carronshore Primary School) followed by the child’s first name and second initial of their surname – https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/cpsalysonm/ This gives a ‘uniform’ appearance to the blogs and associates them with an educational establishment (not just another social networking site that some children might be already using)
- The Headers were modified so that the school identity was prominent. I made these by uploading pictures made in weeworld (it’s for 13+ age group, but the children were not using the actual site – they logged on via a school account made by me and simply saved their avatars). I then uploaded them to Microsoft Publisher and saved the file as a jpeg. This was then uploaded to Microsoft Picture Manager and cropped and resized to the right specifications.
- In the Settings menu on the dashboard, the ‘discussion’ options were set so that all comments would require moderation before appearing ‘live’ on the blogs. It’s imortant to change the default ones to those shown here because in wordpress they’re set to “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” – a bit like a ‘catch 22’ scenario 🙂
- The blog Widgets were added in this order:
1. ‘Text’ widget – so that the children could add something about themselves that would stay visible on their blog even after the introductory post had been archived https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/cpsandrewf/
2. ‘Text’ widget – to link the blogs to http://www.scotedublogs.org.uk/ . Glow Blogs aren’t able to link to this site at the moment, but it’s being worked on and the issue will be sorted soon – fingers crossed 🙂
3. ‘Pages’ widget – I felt it was important to share our class Blogging Rules on their individual blogs.
4. ‘Archives’ widget – I learned from previous experiences of providing children with their own online spaces that it can be difficult for them to understand what has happened to posts they’ve been proud of – and suddenly they seem to disappear because they get archived.
5. ‘Tag Cloud’ widget – Although I’ve activated this widget, I haven’t discussed its use yet with the class. I’m very guilty of not using it in my own blog – but have recently been converted to appreciating the value of tagging posts.
6. ‘Meta’ widget – I learned very early on that if you don’t activate this widget after changing Themes, logging in to your blog can be challenging 🙂
- I’ve already shared the class flickr account with the children. This was set up a few years ago (for a previous class) but will allow the children to access photos from home. The weemee characters are saved on our ‘class share’ area, but this can onlybe accessed at school.
- Google Reader helps me to keep track on what children are posting on their blogs. Subscribing to this means that I don’t need to check each individual blog to look for new posts.
Although there have only been a few class Glow Blog account logins assigned, I’m heartened by the results so far – especially from the boys. I’ll maybe need to re-think some of my original research 🙂
More thoughts to come …..