Educational blogging has several advantages for students' overall learning and I have already talked about these advantages in detail in this post. No two can ever argue over the educational value of blogging not only as a booster of different literacies but also as a window for students to explore other learning venues different from the ones they are used to within the 4 walls of their classroom.
The first thing that comes into your mind when thinking about setting a blog for your class is the platform to use to host this blog. Of course, you would want to go with a free hosting service and the choices are not limited. There are, in fact, several online platforms that provide blogging services for users and, check out this list of the best platforms for creating classroom blogs.
Blogger is by all means my favorite platform and I have been using it for more than 4 years now. I have also tried all the other platforms mentioned above but nothing compares to Blogger ( a personal view). First I love that Blogger is integrated into your Google account , once you are logged into a Google service ( say Gmail for instance) you are automatically logged in to all other services including Blogger which renders your workflow smooth and productive. Blogger's interface is also very simple and easy to use. Students will very quickly learn to use it.
If you think Blogger is where you want to host your classroom blog, then here is a step by step guide on how to do it.
1- First you need to have a Google account, if you have a Gmail account then that means you already have one. Head over to www.blogger.com and log in. Once logged in ,you will land on a page that resembles the one in the screenshot, click on " New Blog "
2 Provide a title for your blog, then type in the address you want to use as URL, you need to keep trying till you find the one available. Next, pick up a template from gallery then click on " create blog" see snapshot below.
3- Now your new blog will appear in your blogger page as is shown in the snapshot below. The one I created for this tutorial is named " test blog " see below. Now click on " start posting " under the title of your blog and you will be directed to a Blogger editor where you can type in your blog post.
Here is what you can do on the editor :
A- Insert Image
To insert an image click on the image icon as shown in the screenshot below
B- Hyperlink a word or phrase
To hyperlink a word just highlight it then click on " Link" in the authoring bar and paste in the link as is shown below
C- Insert Videos
There are two ways to insert videos into your blog post, check out this guide I published earlier on how to do it.
D- Add a quote
To add quotes to your post, paste in or type in the quoted chunk of text then click on the quote icon as shown below
E- Check spelling
Blogger has an integrated spell checker, however this checker sometimes does not work correctly, so to make sure your post is error free click on " abc" icon and any misspelled word will be highlighted in yellow, click on it to correct it
F- Choose Font
To select the font of your text, click on " F" icon and pick up the font you want
G- Change font size
To change font size of your text , click on the font size icon and choose the size you want.
H- Label your post
Labels help you organize your posts into different categories. For instance, if I write a tutorial I would label my post as : tutorial or guide...etc so that when I have several posts and want to look for a specific one I can easily find it based on the labels I used.
I am not sure if you would want to tweak the HTML of your post unless you have a basic knowledge to do so. HTML is useful when integrating ' code snippets" of infographics and videos or slides.
5- Share your Post
Once you are done with typing your post, you can then click on " Publish" and your post will instantly be available on the net
1- To add authors to your blog, click on " setting " located on the left hand side then click on " basic ".
Now scroll down to " blog authors". Click on add and paste in their email or choose one from your contact list in Gmail.
2- Set Blog Readers
You can either make your blog open to the public by choosing " anybody:. You can also restrict readers to only authors you have added in the previous step, or you can restrict reading of your blog to a set of people you select.
3- Adjust Commenting features
By default your blog will display a comment box below your posts.But you can work on who can write comments, you can also moderate comments before they are published and enable a word verification captcha to fight off automated comments.