Using the blog server with pupils

Having had a reasonably good day today where a number of pupils were able to start using their blogs the pupils in my S1 class have started to enjoy using their own blogs.  The blog server only works within the intranet which gives us security when posting the work that the only folk to see it will be their fellow pupils.  Even though at some point I’m sure that this will cause trouble we are all experimenting with the blog server for the first time.  So what have we done?


Well, when setting up the blog I have down loaded 62 different themes?  Why 62?  No particular reason really these were those that I liked and which I felt gave the greatest contrast of styles which I felt were appropriate for the pupils.  I’m sure that I’ll be deleting some of them when I discover their weaknesses.  However, I’d also like to think that we will be developing some themes of our own in due course.


After choosing a theme most pupils have then entered an introductory message to their blog.  I’ll need to develop a template for this to try and encourage the correct calibre of extended writing.  And I may even speak to the English department a bit about this, not that I’ll be stopping there I’m hoping to see French, Social Subjects work and RE etc all having meaningful work on the blog.


Next we have been adding some graphics, uploading them to the media library and including them within the posts.  Not only that but using the Plugin Audio Player we have uploaded an mp3 of the podcasts which then pupils have been developing earlier in the year (before Christmas) which the have created as part of that element of the course.


Links, the pupils have created links to their friends blogs.  One of the limitations of having a blog server on the intranet is that they cannot search for blogs using google.  So having links between blogs is important and I’ll need to look for a plugin for Multisite that can perhaps create an index list of blogs on this server.  If one exists!


We have a wireless network using a  radius server which allows us wireless access within the school.  Our switches also had an upgrade during Easter and this allows our apple devices to connect to the network too.  One of the successes of this is that iPhones, iPads and iPod touches can using the WordPress app (which I’m using right now) to post to their blogs within our intranet. At the moment we haven’t released the proxy settings to our pupils as we have some questions which need answered about a few issues concerning the use of personal devices within the school.  But the scope to open up ICT using these devices could be tremendous and if the blogs are being used to celebrate success and manage pupil’s personal learning then surely the inevitable benefits far outway a few misgivings.  Ultimately we are expecting a large element of pupil responsibility to be evident otherwise we will have to ban pupils using more draconian measures but again in a school of 1250 pupils the number who actually cause bother or who would challenge these rules is by far in the minority and shouldn’t be used to penalise the majority.


Pupils will be expected to administer their own blogs, only allow friends to post comments, to ensure that comments are moderated before they are posted and as yet this has been the case.


Overall, whilst the power requirements to make this a feasible solution for the school remain uncertain because of the power of the hardware. The educational benefits for the classroom have started to become a tangible reality if albeit for a minor who are helping me to test the system.


Is this Curriculum for Excellence?  Yes! As a vehicle for lots of things the potential of a humble blog for each pupil has tremendous value to what the curriculum could deliver.

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