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Traditionally a blog was simply an online journal. Now blogs can be so many different things — ePortfolios, magazines, online communities, podcasts, forums, directories, newsletters … the list goes on!
A blog is a blank canvas that you and your students can bring to life for any purpose.
ZIS has had their own CampusPress blogging network since 2012. It’s basically an Edublogs network branded and customized for their own school.
The ZIS network is mainly used for student ePortfolios. They also use blogs to complement the diverse range of student activities on offer. One of these is their student run newspaper — The Lion’s Journal.
Have you ever considered helping your students set up a student run newspaper on a blog at your school?
We interviewed ZIS teacher Ian Host to find out more about their impressive publication.
What is the aim of The Lion’s Journal?
The aim of the student newspaper is to provide authentic opportunities for students to write, make media, and lead one another in a meaningful project.
How do the students get involved?
Upper School students can freely join the club, but the structure of the newspaper club itself is unusual.
Students in the club participate in deciding on coverage, building a calendar, etc. The editors of the newspaper are entirely drawn from the club. However, any student may submit to the newspaper at any time for consideration for publication.
Additionally, the school has a Digital Journalism course that students may take for three or four years, if they wish. Students in this course are expected to occasionally submit their work to the newspaper.
What moderation takes place, if any? How much autonomy are the students given?
Students have full control over the site including the installation of themes and plugins. (Ian agreed that removing boundaries can lead to higher levels of responsibility and self-regulation).
The faculty advisor, me until this year when my role changed to more administrative, may be consulted, but makes no decisions about publication, design, etc.
This is not a school newspaper, but a student newspaper, so they have full control. As a result, they can be very fastidious about fact checking and the like, particularly when the topics become controversial.
We are comfortable with them taking risks and possibly making mistakes. Thus far, there have been some exciting moments, but they have managed their newspaper so well that we have had no problems to date with irresponsible publication.
What are the benefits of the newspaper to the school?
It provides students an outlet for their writing and media products. Teachers sometimes use pieces from the paper in their classes, as well.
Over the past six plus years, it has showcased our very talented students and also been an inclusive group that provided success for a heterogeneous array of kids. This speaks to our school’s mission and values.
Analytics data also shows that alumni, parents, and grandparents view the newspaper as a way to stay connected with our students and school.
What are the benefits of the newspaper to the students?
Students learn authentically through their participation in and leadership of the newspaper.
Yearly since 2012, ZIS has sent reporters, editors, and several editors-in-chief to various Model United Nations gatherings like Paris and The Hague. Our student journalists have a sterling reputation at MUN because they come to their newspapers with a sense of real responsibility for their work – they haven’t been controlled by adults, but rather are responsible for their work.
Many of our students have gone on to lead student newspapers and magazines at their universities, as well.
When it operates best, the newspaper is also a common space for student voice.
Conclusion: Students Thriving In The 21st Century
The impressive way in which ZIS challenges their students to take risks and responsibility shines through on publications like The Lion’s Journal. Their articles demonstrate that the ZIS students care about the world and the planet.
ZIS students are not waiting for the future to begin authentic tasks. Through their ePortfolios and The Lion’s Journal, students are developing crucial 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Who knows where these experiences will take them?
Do you have any questions or comments about student run newspapers? Leave a comment!
Cybercriminals have the higher education industry in their crosshairs.
According to certain reports, higher education accounted for 13 percent of all data breaches in 2017, with only the healthcare and financial sectors being targeted at a higher rate.
This is no surprise: personal data (of everyone from alumni to staff to faculty), academic research, and cross-institutional records make attractive targets for hackers.
Several cybersecurity incidents have been publicly announced by higher-education institutions, such as:
A University of Maryland database breach targeting the university’s network revealed the records of 287,570 affiliated personnel, students, faculty, and staff
A hack of UCLA’s health system may have exposed records of more than 4 million patients
A 2017 ransomware cyber-attack on University College London may have damaged the files stored on its systems
The information at risk is often that of young individuals laying the foundation for their education and professional lives. Imagine a hacker with access to your Social Security number while you’re still 18. How could that disrupt your ability to get a loan, buy a car or get a job? A decade later, what would happen when you apply for a housing mortgage?
Colleges and universities find themselves locked in a costly arms race as they try to install new tools and modify their tactics to mitigate the latest cyber attacks. However, the attackers continue to switch schemes, find ways around the tools, and hit different victims.
In other words, technological defenses can only go so far. No matter how versatile an institution’s cybersecurity software may be, its end users lead the line of defense during an attack.
That’s where security awareness comes in.
Awareness often takes a backseat due to the busy lives of faculty, and hectic schedule of students. However, it’s important to educate faculty, students, and staff about security awareness if higher education wants to stand a chance against digital crime.
What Can Higher Education Institutions Do to Raise Awareness?
Security is a success-driver when done right, and a considerable risk with potentially devastating consequences when it fails.
Here are five ways higher education institutions can raise awareness on security.
1) Simulated Phishing Exercises
Students, faculty, and staff can be educated on security via simulated phishing.
Universities can build phishing campaigns in-house, where IT can send out fake phishing emails with embedded links. Anyone who clicks on any of the links is redirected to a web page that informs them of the simulation exercise and provides further security-related information.
Alternatively, institutions can partner with organizations who offer phishing simulations in the form of videos, modules, and games. Most vendors will be able to customize awareness training to fit the needs of several types of institutions.
2) Data-Sharing Lectures
Students and faculty members share a variety of personal data through apps and other online services. Specific apps ask to access or use far more data than they need in exchange for free services, and some of them are designed by adversaries who are looking for gateways into institutions.
Personal data can be used to guess passwords and gain access to a device that may contain sensitive data about a college or university. Therefore, lectures should be arranged about data sharing via mobile apps and social networking sites, where the focus should be on reading user agreements to check the amount of data requested before someone downloads a new game or tries a new service.
Incentives can help boost behavior changes, and industries have turned to using awards to make security-awareness education more interesting.
For instance, schools may award prizes to students, faculty, and staffers who flag a vulnerability, while the IT department may compete for a monetary reward based on who can identify the most security threats.
On the flip side, those who engage in unsecured browsing and device usage behavior will hear about it too. In fact, incentives may encourage staffers to take their institution’s security seriously and become part of the first line of defense against attackers.
4) Institution-Wide Security Hygiene
Everyone from students to external stakeholders should be educated on the significance of security hygiene.
Colleges need to start enforcing an acceptable-use policy, where all devices and workstations are locked down by stakeholders and signed out when they’re inactive. Training programs should be set up to educate end users about the importance of strong passwords and timely updates of devices’ operating systems.
Research what individuals require and create baseline rules for essential security controls that should be followed at all times. Students can also be asked to access university applications through a secure portal that keeps data secure and doesn’t place restrictions on student-owned devices.
5) Executive On-Campus Sponsorship
Get buy-in from campus leaders to ensure that a culture of security spreads through an institution. Top individuals, like the president of the student union, can be tasked with the executive responsibility to drive awareness and keep things on track, and they should report to the upper management directly.
This will give institutions the best opportunity to ensure that their security goals are balanced with other risks, like lack of student interest. To keep interest high, campus leaders can arrange events like a “security awareness day” with activities.
Security awareness offers several key benefits to higher-education institutions. It helps them facilitate behavioral change to mitigate potential risks, comply with laws, and reduce unnecessary cost.
However, instead of relying entirely on information-security professionals to prevent infiltration and minimize vulnerabilities, institutions should bank on the persons within to learn and digest new information about security.
By taking the measures mentioned above, schools will be in a better position to create a culture of continuous learning and security awareness.
Traditionally, blog posts were all about text and images. However, videos can really bring your blog alive and make the visitor experience more engaging and interactive.
Blogs are the perfect place to house videos that are made by you, your students, or someone else. If you’ve never tried adding a video to your blog, or you’re looking for some additional tips or ideas, you’re in the right place.
It’s clear that when defining the meaning of literacy in the 21st century, being a fluent reader and writer of only print materials is no longer enough. Silvia Tolisano talks about the importance of media and visual literacies. Being a skilled communicator, creator, and consumer of multimedia is so important. This includes video.
No doubt your students are avid consumers of videos so why not tap into this interest in the classroom?
This post demonstrates 3 ways that you can use videos in your blog posts.
Click on the links below to navigate this resource.
Videos from video sharing websites can be embedded into posts or pages by either using:
The video URL: Paste the URL on a line by itself in your post/page editor where you want the video to appear. This method only works with certain services.
The embed code: Find the embed code on the site you’re using (e.g. YouTube) and copy it. Then in your post put your cursor where you want the video. Click on Add Media and then Insert Embed Code. Paste the code and press Insert into post. Note: this option isn’t available on free blogs
You can find the full instructions with visuals on how to embed videos in this Help Guide.
A Note On Copyright And Videos
You may be wondering about copyright, because we know we can’t just take an image from another site and use it on our blog.
It’s fine to use videos from sites like YouTube that give you the embed option. That being said, you can’t necessarily download and make changes to the video (for example, cutting it up, remixing, adding audio etc).
A Note On Safety
Access to sites like YouTube is a contentious topic in schools. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any experiences with that issue.
If you use sites like YouTube, it can be a good idea to set up a class or teacher account if you plan to upload videos or create playlists. This helps separate your work videos from your personal videos.
Most video sharing websites are not designed for children. In fact, you’ll find most Terms and Conditions state that children under 13 are not allowed to use the service.
Therefore, there are a few things you can do if you’re working with younger students.
When you’re embedding a YouTube video, you’ll notice there are embed options. You’ll find these when you click on Share and then Embed.
You might want to uncheck suggested videos and player controls, and consider enabling privacy-enhanced mode.
If you simply want to show a YouTube video on your television or projector, you might use a tool like Safe YouTube which provides a distraction free link without related videos and other buttons.
This site can also give you links which you can share with students like the one below.
Screencasting is where you narrate a video recording of your computer screen. Sometimes it’s just audio and sometimes you can see your face in the video as well.
One free tool that I’ve found particularly useful is Loom. There are many advantages to this tool including the fact that there are no age restrictions.
I’ve written a blog post about Loom if you want to learn more.
Screencasting is such a versatile way to use video in the classroom. Not only can teachers and students make tutorials, but students can share their learning as a screencast by narrating their digital creations.
For a very simple example, students could narrate a Google Slide presentation as I’ve done below. This is a video I made for our Better Blogging With Students course which we ran in early 2018.
I created that with a free online tool called Lumen5.
It’s a simple way to make a slideshow type video.
It can even “automagically” make your blog post into a video (for best results you’ll need to edit it slightly).
Lumen5 contains a library of Creative Commons Zero images and music so you don’t need to search for content either (although you can use your own pictures and video).
The only downside (apart from it being a 13+ tool) is you can’t embed your video directly onto your blog as far as I can tell. So you have to put it on social media or YouTube first and then get the embed code from there. Or you could download the video and upload it directly into your post/page.
There are a number of ways you can create simple animations online. Two free tools you might be interested in exploring with your students include PowToon and Biteable.
Both of these tools have free plans and can be used by students under 13, however, they do require students to sign up via email. I contacted both companies to confirm the age restrictions. PowToon recommended supervision or using a paid classroom account (obviously, supervision is always a good idea!)
One benefit of PowToon over Biteable is that you can download your finished product as a PowerPoint or PDF file. You can only download your Biteable creation with a paid plan.
You can embed both tools into your blog posts or pages.
This is a video a student made for the Student Blogging Challenge about quality commenting.
Another student taking part in the challenge created this Biteable about YAPPY.
There are a few things you can do to enhance the quality of your piece to camera.
Lighting: This is really important! Sit near a window if you can or add lamps etc. Aim for even natural light. Don’t have a window behind you.
Audio: Your phone or computer will record video just fine (in good lighting) but the audio quality won’t be great. Add an external microphone if possible.
Tripod: If you’re using a phone, it needs to be steady. Many discount stores now sell basic phone tripods. You can elevate these on furniture as needed.
Location: Keep your background simple and film in a quiet location (easier said than done at school?).
Clean your lens: Especially if you’re filming on your phone, wipe that dirty lens.
Horizontal: If you’re using a phone, turn it on its side. If you want to know why your video should be horizontal, you might enjoy this very funny video.
Raise your device: If you’re using a laptop to film, you might want to raise it so you’re at eye level. Same with a phone or tablet.
Front facing camera: If you’re alone, switch the camera so you can see where you are in the frame (consider positioning yourself slightly off centre in the frame).
Look at the lens: Find the tiny hole and try to make eye contact with it. Smile!
Record: Whether or not you want to actually script what you want to say is up to you. A more natural approach may be to create a few notes or an outline, rather than scripting or reading. Pace yourself and enjoy!
If you’re #NotAtISTE this year and would like to be included in the list, send Abbe a tweet (@AbbeWaldron) or add your details on the map in the #NotAtISTE Google + Community (it’s in the introductions area).
You might also be interested in setting up your own Twitter list. For example, you could create a list of the presenters you’re interested in following. Read more about using Twitter lists.
There are many tools and platforms available that allow students to publish online. Naturally, these options come with pros and cons.
Edublogs and CampusPress are powered by a customized version of WordPress. WordPress is the tool of choice for the large majority of professional bloggers and online publishers.
WordPress can also be an excellent choice for our students. This post explains why!
A Brief Overview Of WordPress
WordPress is a content management system that is behind millions of popular websites worldwide.
The first version of WordPress was made available for download on May 27, 2003. It has just celebrated its 15th birthday!
WordPress is simply software that’s free to download (although needs to be hosted somewhere which usually incurs costs).
WordPress is open source which means it is maintained and advanced by a global community of volunteers. This is part of the widespread appeal of WordPress.
Users can extend the functionality of their WordPress site with plugins, and can customize the look and feel of their site with different themes.
WordPress can be used on all sorts of devices, including mobiles.
8 Reasons Why WordPress Is The Best Choice For Students
1) It’s Straightforward But Not The ‘Easiest’ Option
The great thing about WordPress is despite having some more advanced features available, you don’t need to know how to do everything to achieve success. You can simply use the main publishing features and ignore the rest.
Anyone who has average computer skills can maintain a functional and attractive site with no coding knowledge. But there are options for everyone.
People with a limited tech experience can use it “out of the box”, and more tech-savvy folks can customize it in remarkable ways.
Some teachers may gravitate towards an ‘easier’ platform with almost no learning curve. These can be useful starting places, however, let’s not forget that easy doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Once you get started, you might be sacrificing features, customization, flexibility, authenticity, and growth, for simplicity.
As Seymour Papert famously reminded us, perhaps we should consider if ‘easy’ is what we’re really striving for.
2) The Power Of Authenticity
The fact that around a third of the whole web is now powered by WordPress is a statistic we can’t ignore. WordPress is an authentic tool. Professional bloggers rarely look for a drag-and-drop/ready-made publishing platform.
K-2 teachers may decide to start with a simple platform that’s designed solely for schools. This certainly isn’t a bad decision. The issue in starting this way is when educators never make the switch to a more authentic platform that will serve the students better as they progress through their schooling and lives.
Why not start as you intend to continue?
3) Students Can Do More Than You Might Think!
I’ve spent many years teaching 7 to 10 year olds. Some of my student bloggers learned amazing skills — modifying HTML codes, sourcing and attributing Creative Commons images, creating and embedding media, hyperlinked writing, authentically connecting with others around the globe … the list goes on!
A lot of the time, this was through organic peer tuition. For example, one student would figure something out. Another student would notice and enlist their classmate’s help. What a joy to see this sort of learning play out in your classroom!
The above scenario involves things like teamwork, problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, communication, research — aren’t these the sorts of skills we want our students to develop?
Are our students missing out if we try to give them all the answers and lay out every instruction for them? Do we really need to limit functions so they don’t have to figure out what buttons to press?
When you make something moderately challenging, meaningful, and open-ended for students you might be surprised at the outcomes.
UK principal, Ross Cooper, has talked about digital citizenship being a non-negotiable and promotes the use of an authentic publishing platform.
I would go as far to say we’d be a bit hypocritical by first declaring, “Digital citizenship is important; let’s practice it!” and then saying, “Use this, because we don’t want you to experience what’s out there.” …
Nevertheless, experiences with authentic tools allow for students to apply what they’ve learned in settings that very much mimic the real world. And, at the same time, teachers are present to turn mistakes into beneficial lessons.
5) Owning Your Online Space
There’s something powerful about establishing an online space that is yours. Perhaps even with your own domain name. Students can begin shaping their own positive digital footprints from a young age.
The domain name part can come later on in a child’s schooling, or even upon graduation. And, with a WordPress blog, exporting is easy.
Audrey Watters has written about the benefits of students having their own domain,
The importance of giving students responsibility for their own domain cannot be overstated. This can be a way to track growth and demonstrate new learning over the course of a student’s school career — something that they themselves can reflect upon, not simply grades and assignments that are locked away in a proprietary system controlled by the school.
We feel strongly that student work should always be completed on a platform that allows the student to archive their work or take it with them.
Sadly, there are many online services that end up closing. This can ignite a panic if teachers and students have built up a lot of content that they won’t be able to transfer.
Services do come and go, and being prepared in case it happens is key. Even more important is teaching students that what they write is theirs to keep, to do with as they wish, and to provide them with the means to do so.
It only takes minutes to export your WordPress blog as a XML (WXR) file. You can then import this content to another site as our help guide explains.
WordPress used to be solely for blogs, however, that has changed.
Using different themes, plugins, and settings, a WordPress site can now be a static website, a website with a blog component, a simple blog, a portfolio, magazine, eCommerce store, course, forum, and so on. The choice is yours!
This customization allows you to precisely meet the needs of your students, school, and community. After all, your learning goals and intentions come first. The technology comes second.
8) Online Hub
The great thing about using a WordPress based platform is you’re not saying no to all the wonderful web tools that are out there. In fact, you’re able to embrace them!
A blog is simply a blank canvas that can be your online home. Along with text, you can add images of digital or analogue work, and embed a wide range of media including video, podcasts, comics, polls, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and more! Not to mention the extra functionality available with plugins and widgets.
There are more ways than ever before to learn, create, and connect. As Silvia Tolisano says, “a blogfolio can be the glue that holds all the puzzle pieces together.”
What Makes Edublogs The Ideal Solution?
We’ve looked at some key reasons why WordPress is a good choice, but of course, Edublogs and CampusPress are not the only WordPress hosting solutions available. So why do so many teachers and educational institutions choose us?
If you want to start a blog to use with your students my first recommendation is to try Edublogs. It runs on the powerful WordPress platform but doesn’t require you to worry about any of the technical aspects of using WordPress. More importantly, you have control over the creation of your students’ usernames and passwords. Blogs and individual blog posts can be made private, password-protected, or public.
Below are the instructions for turning your blog into a PDF with BlogBooker. This tool is free for exporting up to 3 blogs with low quality images. You can convert one year’s worth of content if you’re creating a PDF. Otherwise, it’s 6 months for Word document conversions. You don’t need to sign up to use BlogBooker.
Listicles are a popular format for blog posts. Students could work individually or collaboratively to create a “Top 10” countdown of their favorite or most popular blog posts from the year. They could link to each post and perhaps include a summary or quote from the post.
Alternatively, you could create the top 10 lists as a teacher and invite students to add their own thoughts in the comment section.
(Tip: If you use Edublogs Pro or CampusPress, look in Dashboard > Statistics to see which posts have been most popular with readers. Find out more).
You could also create “Top 10s” about other topics such as those listed in the Year In Review activity below.
3) Year In Review Reflections
As a class, brainstorm a list of topics from throughout the year. Then have students choose a number of these to write about.
What a nice way to raise the class morale at the end of the year!
Becky sent the paper copies of this activity home as a Mother’s Day gift. Perhaps you could use this content as an end of year gift.
This “write a sentence” activity could work for any age group. Students could write their messages on paper and pass it around. Then a photo of the document could be added to a blog post.
Alternatively, this activity could be done digitally. Perhaps via comments on students’ blogs or using a tool like Padlet (Tip: Richard Byrne has listed 5 useful alternatives to Padlet. Check out number 5 below for more information about using Padlet).
5) Create Thank Yous
There are so many people in the school community who have worked tirelessly throughout the year — principals, administrators, cleaners, volunteers, bus drivers etc etc.
Students could show their appreciation publicly by creating a thank you blog post, video, or podcast.
Padlet could also be a great tool to create public thank yous. Note: recent changes to Padlet means you can only have three walls on the free plan.
Richard Byrne has created this video to demonstrate how to add audio, video, and picture notes to a Padlet wall. The whole class could collaborate on one ‘thank you’ wall or different individuals/groups could work on a wall for a specific person.
How to Add Audio, Video, and Picture Notes to Padlet Walls - YouTube
6) Teach The Class
You’ve been busy teaching all year. Why not give students a chance to create their own mini course to finish off the year?
This could be to revise topics studied in class, begin next year’s content, or explore students’ passions.
Blog posts can become courses, as you can see from our Teacher Challenge series of courses. You can add information to a post via text, videos, embedded slideshows etc. Participants can be “assessed” via an embedded quiz (e.g. Google forms), or they could be simply asked to leave a comment to complete a task.
7) Write Your Own Report Card
The end of the school year might be when students receive a final report card from teachers. Having students create their own report cards about themselves, their friend, or even their teacher could be a worthwhile activity.
If these ended up being too personal to add to blog posts, you could always create a password protected post or just include extracts in a post.
One way students could create their reports is by creating a Google Sheet that’s then embedded in a post. You can now add checkboxes to spreadsheets which would be handy so the mock report card could have a scale and comments.
In the past, I’ve created a survey for parents to reflect on my own practice. This included a request for feedback on things like:
Student engagement and most memorable activities
Effectiveness of communication (including the class blog and email newsletter etc.)
This sort of feedback can help you tweak your approaches in the following year.
Of course, you could survey your students as well to get a more rounded picture of how effective some of your classroom practices have been. We want our students to continually improve through a feedback cycle, so this can be a good idea for teachers as well.
You could also make a poll or survey that’s just for fun! It could be a vote on highlights from the school year or a way to collect memories and quotes.
Note: you can use Polldaddy directly on the Polldaddy website or via the plugin.
Here’s an idea I used to find worked well, and I’m sure some of you have tried it as well. At the end of the school year, I used to have my students write a personal letter to an individual student who will be joining my class the following year.
The current students enjoyed being “experts” and sharing their words of wisdom, while the incoming students usually appreciated the insights.
Jodie Scales recently did this activity with her students. Instead of each student writing a letter, they all created a visual with one piece of advice which was put together in a blog post.
One of the many advantages of having a class blog is the potential for global collaboration.
Global collaboration has always been one of my very favorite aspects of blogging with students.
There are many reasons why global collaboration is worthwhile.
Connecting with other classes around the world is fun! I’m yet to meet a student who doesn’t enjoy getting involved in global collaboration. It just seems to spark a natural sense of curiosity and wonder, even for those who are disengaged with some aspects of traditional schooling.
Developing global competence is a must. If we want our students to thrive in a changing labor market, live harmoniously together, and work together to solve some of our world’s big problems, they need to be comfortable with global collaboration.
The curriculum can come alive. Many teachers worry that global collaboration is an “add-on” which they don’t have time for with a busy curriculum. To the contrary, global projects can offer an authentic and innovative way to teach and go beyond learning benchmarks.
Global collaboration is purposeful and productive. We know our students are online. A lot. But what are they doing online? Playing games? Taking selfies? Texting? We all need downtime but perhaps we could tap into this interest in the online world and help students connect more purposefully and productively? Global collaboration could be a piece of that puzzle. This sentiment is echoed by George Couros in his post, Hope is Not a Strategy.
Maybe you like the idea of connecting with other classes, but don’t know where to start? This guide will walk you through many different entry points to global collaboration.
In this post, I’ve outlined a framework that’s weaved from my own experiences. I hope you’ll add to the guide by sharing your own ideas and experiences.
Okay, you certainly don’t have to have a blog to get involved in global collaboration but there are advantages to having one.
A blog is an online hub. It acts as a place where classes can meet, collaborate, converse, and learn together. You can document your journey with global collaboration and also post content (text, photos, videos, songs etc.) to share with other classes.
A blog is your virtual home. You may want to make your classroom community discoverable if you’re interested in forming connections. This would be through a public blog. A public blog also offers an authentic and ongoing way to cover digital citizenship, as I have written about before. Together, your classroom community can make decisions about what will be posted including names, photos, personal information, and so on (refer to Should Your Class Or Student Blogs Be Public Or Private to dive into this topic further).
If you’re brand new to blogging, we have a guide to get you started. Check it out.
The first stage of connecting with other classes is informal collaboration. This is where you dip your toes in, reach out to someone, and just try some form of connection. You don’t need to have big goals or objectives and it doesn’t have to be an ongoing thing.
Informal collaboration is simply an entry point that’s low risk and not daunting. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter. If it does work out, you never know where it could take you!
Simply find someone who has a class that looks like a good match to your own class (similar age/subject, a location you’d like to connect with etc.). You might put a call out on Twitter, check out our list of class blogs which we update twice a year, or simply google for class blogs. Then it’s just a matter of asking! Leave a blog comment, send a tweet, or send an email if there is an address listed.
Once you’ve asked someone if they want to collaborate and they say yes, decide what you want to do. Do you want to leave comments on each others’ blogs? Perhaps you could post something special for the other class to comment on (e.g. film your class singing a song or giving a tour of the school). Or you might want to do a casual Skype call. Never used Skype before? Get our PDF full of tips for running a successful Skype call.
Remember it works both ways. If you want others to comment on your blog, make sure you visit their blogs as well. And keep the conversations going by asking questions etc.
You might also find that it’s easy enough to find connections in first world/western countries — USA, Australia, UK, New Zealand etc. Once you get familiar with global collaboration, you might consider ways to connect with educators in other parts of the world. This can broaden your students’ horizons even further.
The first experiences many classes have with global projects involve joining pre-organized collaborations. You don’t need to think of the project idea and find your own connections. There are agencies and groups that can do this for you.
You might not have the connections, the ideas, or the willingness/time/capacity to organize your own global project. Or, you might like to sometimes join in pre-arranged projects and sometimes set up your own collaborations or projects.
Below is a list of projects that classes can join from anywhere in the world. This list is far from exhaustive. There are so many wonderful projects out there that are free and open to anyone. We invite you to add your own suggestions in a comment.
This is a 10 week challenge held every March and October. Sue Wyatt has been running the challenge for the last ten years with support from Edublogs. Every week there are tasks published to help students and classes learn about blogging while connecting with others around the world.
This is a popular project run by retired English head teacher, Julia Skinner. Each week a prompt is published and students are invited to respond in under 100 words. Julia can also help connect your class with a hub where three classes from around the world band together to support each other with comments. Additionally, Julia has a team of volunteers who comment on students’ work each week.
Every year, millions of students and educators connect on or around September 15th to celebrate creativity, courage, and collaboration.
Participating in International Dot Day is simple. You sign up on the website, read The Dot book to your class, and express yourself in any way that’s in line with themes from the book. Then finally, you’re invited to connect with other classes around the world and the Dot Day organizers can help you do this.
Find out more about participating in International Dot Day in our 2017 post.
Class blogs are more popular than ever! Many educators realize the advantage of having an online space that complements their physical space.
It can be so inspiring to take a virtual peek into other classrooms by checking out class blogs. Visiting other blogs and leaving a comment can be the first step to a wonderful collaboration between classes too.
But where do you find other class blogs to visit?
We have maintained a class blog list on The Edublogger since 2008 and it is always one of our most popular resources.
Whether you’re looking for ideas on how other educators use blogs, seeking lesson inspiration, or wanting to make global connections, our class blog list is a handy reference to bookmark.
Subject areas such as Maths, Science, English, History etc, or
Type of blog such as library or school news
The columns on the spreadsheet help you identify:
Class Blog Title
Blogging Since — This is the year that the teacher began blogging with students (perhaps not with the same blog they’re currently using)
Student Blogs — Class blogs with individual student blogs are listed as “Yes” under this column. Most student blogs can be found on the sidebar of the class blog under the class blog widget or student list. The platform that student blogs are hosted on is indicated in brackets on the spreadsheet (EB = Edublogs, CP = CampusPress, KB = Kidblog and SS = Seesaw)
Is your class blog on this list but you have spotted inaccuracies or missing information? Please leave a comment on this post and let us know what details we need to update.
Would you like to add your class blog to our list? Complete the following form. Your class blog must be public to be added to the list. We update the list twice a year so look out for our next update on The Edublogger towards the end of 2018.
We’d love to hear from you if you have found this list of class blogs helpful.
Have you gathered any inspiration or connections from visiting other class blogs? Let us know!
I’ve been watching in awe and admiration of the teacher walk-outs around the US as we grapple with the results of decades of underfunding (and a more recent all-out attack) of our public schools.
In my home state of Texas, we can only hope the movement will impact us tangentially, as it is illegal for educators here to strike in any way. Doing so would result in giving up teaching certifications and any retirement benefits already earned. Scary stuff.
For years I’ve been pondering one idea that I believe if implemented, would raise teacher pay, improve quality of life, and better recruit and retain educators. It wouldn’t be easy and popular with everyone, but given the current climate, perhaps this is worth a public debate. So here goes…
I think we should require teachers to work through the summer months and pay them for it.
We wouldn’t need to significantly increase daily rates (though we should consider that too), but instead, we pay teachers for more days.
For example, here in Austin, a first-year teacher works 187 days a year (officially) and makes $47,257. We all know everyone, especially a first-year teacher, puts in more unpaid days anyway.
Add the summer months in, to 230 paid days a year, and that would take the annual salary to $58,123. We could go even higher with days worked which would raise the pay more – in the US, the average employee outside of education works 260 days per year.
At a minimum, that would make 43 additional days where teachers wouldn’t be teaching. That means 43 days where the professional could grow as an educator, contribute back to the field, write and improve lesson plans, create assessments, and prepare for the year ahead.
All of that planning time would mean that during the school year, teachers would have much of the planning already done and at the ready. We could also give back more time to teachers during the school year with fewer meetings, professional development, and paperwork, which could be done on paid days without students.
I might be strung up for this, but I might even propose we pay teachers to work during all or part of fall, winter, and spring breaks too. With the trade-off being significantly less time taken away from them during the instructional days. Let’s give teachers back their nights and weekends! They’ll be better teachers as a result.
But how do we pay for this?
I’m just the blogger here, so I don’t have all the answers. But I do have some thoughts:
First, no longer allow teachers to miss instructional days for professional development. We spend a lot of money on substitute teachers for this – and everyone, especially students, suffers as a result. PD, data days, and collaboration pull-outs should ONLY be on paid days where students aren’t in. Substitutes should be reserved for days when teachers are sick or have personal days.
Second, the real savings could come from allowing the teachers to be the professionals that they truly are. This might be controversial, but if given more time, teachers won’t need anywhere near the number of coaches, facilitators, trainers, and programs that we spend billions of dollars on each year. Certainly, collaboration and EdCamp style PD is important and should be required. But if teachers have the time to create curricula and assessments, we won’t need to pay the giant publishing corporations for them. The expertise is there – we treat teachers as professionals and not robots. We also won’t need the number of non-teaching school and district employees that currently implement and manage these services. With more paid time on their hands, teachers will be just fine.
Won’t this cause more problems than it solves?
For some, maybe. Some teachers won’t like giving up their summers – and some may have more lucrative summer gigs they’d miss out on. Others will be financially burdened even more with childcare costs and will miss the time home with their own kids. I get that. Schools are pretty good at taking care of children, so maybe schools could work something out with their teachers as a benefit with programs to help take care of their kids on non-instructional days.
I’d also suggest a discussion to allow for some teacher paid days to be remote or on their own time and schedule. This would provide teachers perks like much of the professional and business world (and saving schools money on heating/air and other operational costs).
Most agree, teachers are generally overworked and don’t have the spare time they need. By paying teachers for more work days, we can help both with increasing teacher pay and improving the daily life of teachers during the school year – with the ultimate goal of improving the learning experiences of students that teachers serve.
What do you think? Has this been tried before or is it in place somewhere? I’d love to hear about it!
Each year we conduct a survey on how educators are using blogs. Our goal is to document the trends in educational blogging.
We started the annual survey because we’re frequently asked for detailed information to help educators:
Convince school administrators to allow blogging.
Understand the benefits of blogging and how blogs are used with students.
Know more about which blogging platforms are commonly used by educators (and why).
This post summarizes what you told us in our sixth annual survey.
For simplicity, we’ll refer to this report as the 2017 survey despite the survey being open from November 2017 to April 2018.
All of the figures stated in the charts are percentages. Some of the percentages for various questions don’t add up to 100% because some people chose multiple options.
We understand that this report only provides a snapshot of how blogs are being used in certain communities and doesn’t necessarily reflect true global trends. We invite you to add your own insights in a comment.
No time to read it all? We’ve summarized some key findings below.
Click on a link below to go to the section you want to read: