A Blog for the Class

How can WordPress help in a primary school?

This just appeared on twitter – “Need help! Want to set up a blog with my new class but no idea where or how to start! Any ideas gladly welcomed!” and it was pretty much the subject we worked through in our recent workshops.

This blogpost has been made as a result of that request, and I’m sure a few people can add / correct some of my comments.

All the information here is based on using the free of charge WordPress.com hosted solution.

Protection

First things first – this stuff appears on the internet so adhere to the policies you have for web sites.(If you’re reading this, then the chances are that you can add to these comments)

  • Use only images of children where you’ve had consent
  • No image with name
  • No name with image

And some more to follow below.

Getting Started

You need to register a blogname, users and pick a theme – the information in the WordPress Getting started guide is really helpful.

Protect your children

When you fire up wordpress.com you’re greeted with a screen like this –

image

Today – it’s fine. Sometimes these popular blogs are not really appropriate to show up in a class. So – get to grips with an off-line editor like Windows LiveWriter. This means that when you or the children are making blogposts they only see your material. (To find out how to use Windows Live Writer – my user manual is here).

Watch Those Comments

Once people find your blog, you’d like to see some comments. But – beware, you may be opening your blog up to some weird and (not so) wonderful comments. So – make sure that anything anybody adds is approved by you first.

Here’s how you do that in WordPress.

On the dashboard – goto Settings, Discussion and make sure you select this option

image

How ‘Public’ do you want it to be?

Some of us want to make our blogs as easy to find as possible – others want to keep them fairly private.

On the WordPress Control Panel – look under settings->privacy and select the option to suit you

image

Note that if you select the last option, you’ll need to register users with WordPress – they’ll then receive an email which they have to acknowledge. This school visit blog is an example of the middle option.

Use Pictures – but think a bit

It’s so easy to generate high quality digital images and it’s also easy to forget just how big the picture files can be. High quality = large file size. This means that users will see delays in downloading the pictures and you’ll get through your storage space allowance pretty quickly.

Here’s the information related to my file space usage after 223 posts

image

The space usage of the pictures has been reduced drastically by using a free tool called Image Resizer. (An essential utility which I’ve written about here)

salisbury cathedral

The original of this image is 3.44Mb

This (resized) version is 127Kb.

As you can see, the picture quality of the resized picture is more than adequate for screen resolution.

Have you found any mistakes in this blog post? Is there anything I can add to make it more useful?

Please use the comments below.

Image Resizer – take 2

Great news from Codeplex – an image resizer clone has been written by Brice Lambson so there is now a version for Windows 2000, Vista, Windows 7 and 64 bit.

Details are here

Image Resizer

Our team are finding that schools (and probably most people) are taking thousands of high quality digital pictures. Often these pictures are used for nothing more challenging than screen based tasks (desktops, Powerpoint, web sites) and they really don’t need to be that massive!

Microsoft has a fantastic free download called Image Resizer – this is free and works on Windows XP. The download is here (please note that this link takes you directly to the file – choose save as to save, and install later, or install to install it directly from the web)

http://download.microsoft.com/download/whistler/Install/2/WXP/EN-US/ImageResizerPowertoySetup.exe

A very hand set of instructions are available here

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/learnmore/tips/eschelman2.mspx

I would add a note to Marc’s brilliant descriptions – if you are going to use ‘resize originals’ option, then make a copy of the pictures at full image size – and resize that copy. Then when / if you’re happy delete the originals or better still move them to archive