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 –

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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WordPress and Free Software

The Bonus Bit

Following our session yesterday, I was reminded of a facility with some other blogging features which allows ‘Blogging by email’. WordPress.com supports that.

This blog post is an example.

This page http://en.support.wordpress.com/post-by-email/ shows you how to do it

WordPress and Free Software Session

Part 1 – The WordPress Bit

We had a great session today looking through some features from WordPress.com and free utilities and ideas from Google and from Microsoft. To round off a very useful session we got a dormant twitter user up and running 🙂

Here are the links and notes from the session. (Some of these are elsewhere on my blog, and some go out to other web sites).

Blogging in school?

Make sure you check this box – someone needs to be in charge of comments. On the dashboard, select settings, discussions and tick this box-

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Want your blog to look like a web site?

For your blog to have a ‘static’ front page, and still be able to your blog posts, make a new PAGE called Posts then select this option in dashboard –> settings –>reading

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I don’t want search engines to find my blog

Dashboard –> settings-> privacy

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Use the second option and simply give your blog address to people. if you use the third option remember that you’ll have to define the users to WordPress (may take a bit of effort).

How do I get that Tweet button on the blog post

The new sharing option appears to have replaced this (in the time between showing it today and writing this blog!).

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In the dashboard below the settings menu there’s a whole tab called sharing. Please could someone look a this post and tweet it!