Posterous

January 11, 2010

So you want to post text, documents, audio, video and photographs online, at no cost, but you have no idea how to set up a website and even a blog seems a bit complicated? Well Posterous may just be for you.

This is an incredibly simple way of blogging – you sign up for an account with an e-mail address and simply e-mail Posterous with your content. The subject line of your e-mail becomes the title of the post, and any message appears as the text – the application puts it in reverse chronological order, like blogs do. More impressive is how it deals with multimedia content – attach a single photo to your e-mail and it will add it into the post. Attach multiple photos and it will create a gallery with thumbnails. Video and audio files appear in a media player, Word documents and PowerPoints appear as a Scribd document (so you can read and scroll through the document on the webpage, without having to open the file).

You can also add a bookmarking widget to your bookmarks toolbar, so that any text, video or image you find on the internet can be grabbed and sent straight to your Posterous page. Posts can be tagged with keywords so it i’s easy to find information on a particular subject.

This is the ideal site to use as a class blog, as you can document everything that goes on in the classroom quickly and easily, and it can be password protected (or individual posts can be made private). If you want students to use it, they will need their own e-mail addresses, and you can add any number of contributors to a single Posterous site. The only limit is the 1Gb of space each Posterous site is assigned.

I’ve used one this term with a primary school to report on the cross-curricular music project we are doing – with pupils writing the reports, taking photos and posting them to the Posterous blog here.

Here are a couple more examples:

http://mrrowland.posterous.com/

http://tombarrett.posterous.com/

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Getting Started With Blogging

January 20, 2009

What is a blog?wordpress

“A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. […] The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.”  (Wikipedia)

Traditionally blogs provide commentary on a particular subject, or they are a more personal online diary, but they are increasingly being used for educational purposes – both by educators and their students. You can upload video, images, audio and documents to blogs.

Why should I blog?

A blog is an excellent way of communicating with your students, and because a blog can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection, it means parents can also see what their children have been working on. The main advantage of a blog is that you create an audience for their work – if pupils know that their story/poem/news item can be seen by anyone in the world, then they will make sure it is the best piece of work possible. In addition, it means they receive feedback by people outside the school – so a project on a particular country may be read and commented upon by someone from that country. If you don’t wish the blog to be public, you can make posts password protected. The facility to leave comments on posts is a way of encouraging peer review (these comments can be moderated to ensure there is no misuse).

Students who are reluctant writers in class, may find they can express themselves much better through a blog, with written text, but also through images and audio.

What should I blog?

edublogsYou could create a class blog where you post homework assignments, news items and examples of work. Other ideas are Creative Writing blogs for individual students, where other pupils use the comments feature to provide peer review, and field trip/foreign exchange blogs.

You can see some examples below:

http://www.nodehillfrench.typepad.com/ – French department blog.
http://www.sandaigprimary.co.uk/ – Has links on the righthand side to all the Sandaig school blogs (poets corner, eco schools committee etc.)
http://mgsonline.blogs.com/ – Musselburgh Grammar School trip to France.

How do I get started?blogger

1. First choose your blog provider. Here are some of the most popular:

WordPress – This is what the CLC uses. It comes with 3 Gigabytes of storage, but to upload audio or video files you need to upgrade.

Blogger – Simple, free, good-looking blogs, but currently blocked by YHGfL.

Edublogs – Blogs specifically for educators. You can upload audio and video, but you may need to pay for a space upgrade if you are using a lot of media (it comes with 20MB for free).

2. Sign up for an account – generally your Username becomes part of the URL (web address) for your blog, so think about one relevant to the subject you’ll be covering.

3. Choose a Theme (what the blog looks like/colour scheme).

4. Start posting. This is as simple as if you were writing a Word document – you can change font colours, add hyperlinks and images etc. very easily. Posts can be saved as Drafts, i.e. a work in progress, or Published, which means it will be viewable online. You can edit or delete a published post if you need to change anything.

5. Decide if you want students to be able to post items. If so, either use a generic login that everyone uses, or get each student to create their own login and invite them as users to the blog. A generic login is easier, but means if anyone posts anything inappropriate, you can’t identify them.

6. Educate your students about Internet safety and etiquette. Only use first names or nicknames on the blog and ensure no other personal information is posted that can identify the young person (unless you password protect the post). Ensure that comments are constructive and won’t cause offence. You can choose to approve all comments before they are published.

7. You and your students can subscribe to the blog, using a tool such as Google Reader. This means you can be kept up to date on new posts. This is most useful if you have a number of blogs to keep an eye on. See here for a Getting Started guide to Google Reader.

Useful resources

  • The Edublogger – Tips, tricks, ideas and help with using Web 2.0 technologies and Edublogs. Has some good examples of how other educators are using Edublogs.
  • How to start your own blog – Video on the blog of a MFL teacher in Nottingham.
  • WordPress Tutorial – This is a video on You Tube (so probably only accessible at home) with step by step instructions on how to set up a WordPress blog.




Get your own blog!

January 22, 2008

WordPress who host this blog have just announced that from now on they will provide 3GB of space for free to their users. This a huge amount of space, and means that you can upload plenty of photos and documents. Unfortunately you still need to buy an upgrade to upload audio or video files, but this only costs $20 a year (around £10 at the moment).

What is a blog? – see here for the Wikipedia definition.

Why have a blog? Well they can be used in a number of ways. Here are just a few suggestions – feel free to reply with your own ideas:

1. Primary school teachers could set up a class blog in order to showcase work, keep parents better informed about what is happening, post news items etc.

2. Teachers from any subject and key stage can set up their own blog for setting homework, providing revision notes or useful links. 

3. Creative writing blogs for an English class – pupils can post their poetry or stories, with photos, and other students can then provide peer reviews using the reply option. The teacher can change the settings so that all comments are moderated, to avoid any inappropriate replies.

4. Field trip/exchange blog – pupils can write up what they do on a field trip or foreign language exchange, with photos, links and audio commentary. Students back at school can then access this and use it as material for their lesson.

5. Partner schools blog – have a blog that students in your school and a partner school (e.g. in Germany) can contribute to. Students from both countries can write posts about their school life or any other aspect of their own culture to compare lives in different countries. It’s an easy way to share photos and news.

6. Set up a blog for your department or whole staff, to share information, useful tips, resources, links etc.

Examples:

http://www.nodehillfrench.typepad.com/ – French blog from Nodehill School, with news, interviews and pupils’ speaking tasks.

http://www.sandaigprimary.co.uk/pivot/ – Sandaig Primary School blog.

http://fwe2.motime.com/ – An English teacher in Portugal’s blog.

Important note: When creating a blog for students to use, it is important to make sure you (or students themselves) don’t post personal details, full names, photos of students (unless with parental consent) on a public blog. WordPress allows you to password protect posts, in case you want to limit access to certain information.