Blogs for schools – What’s going on?

Reading Will today (congrats on the forthcoming book btw!) reminded me of a couple of ‘blogging in schools’ providers to and even more interestingly:

“I’ve been sworn to secrecy about a couple of other entrants soon to be coming forth that I think will take classroom blogging to an even higher level”

So is this hip or something?

As Will said there’s blogmeister and there’s ePals and there’s also 21Publish and a heap of other possibilities for the more tech savvy institution.

And of course… for the connoisseur… there’s and :o)

Basically it seems like there’s three camps; the ‘start a blog’ service, the ‘let us set up a community of blogs for you’ service and the ‘use me to set up your own community of blogs’ service. The start a blog service (such as is obviously ‘free’ as quite simply you’re not going to do well as any blog service if you charge, the ‘set up for you’ guys are obviously the ones who charge (as that’s what they charge for) and the set-your-own-up are mostly also free (although there are some ‘premium’ solutions it’d be a bit silly to use them if you’re able to host your own).

So wossup? What’s with all the excitement?

I mean, didn’t Peter Ford do this in 2000 with Manila? Schoolblogs anyone? I’d love to have your take on all of this Peter of you’re out there?

Maybe it’s culture catching up with technology? Maybe it’s the fact that this is a whole lot easier to do now (i.e. better tools)? Who knows? And more interestingly, who’s going to win ;)

Personally I’d like learnerblogs to be a kind of ‘start a blog’ but also ‘start your own community’ site down the line… so that a teacher could easily set up a community of bloggers (once they’d got their blogs) through the .org and roll from there. In terms of ‘safety’ / ‘security’ etc. I’ve also been thinking about how it would be great to have an Elgg farm also running out of there… so people can easily create their own secure communities which they can then use to support existing learnerblog blogs or to run on it’s own as a ‘secure’ blogging site.

I reckon the ‘provider’ who sells to departments / big unis etc. has a chance (a slim one given the OS opportunities available), the one that sends to individual schools a pretty limited future and the non-profit ones (like learnerblogs), a scramble to get some sort of sponsorship / funding to keep them relevant and worthwhile.


Update: Surfing around this I found this excellent OLDaily article/review on weblogging in education that predates me by about 7 months back in ’02 and from that I got to hear some of what Peter thinks whether he’s reading this or not (oh sod it, I’ll just email him the link):

“The perfect all-embracing edublogging software does not exist and probably never will. No software can satisfy the multi-facetted desires and needs of the colourful and varied educational stage. Tweaking software will ‘please some of the the people some of the time’ but pleasing all of the people all of the time is another matter altogether. Ease of use is also important in software adoption but what one finds easy is another’s challenge. Software alone will never produce a ‘blogtastic’ revolution in our schools. In fact, blogging software choice is not the crux of the matter. There are no fatal mistakes to be made in that area as long as we realise that all ‘software sucks’. Pioneering, mentoring educators are far more crucial to the whole edublogging process. Let’s concentrate our ‘hot air production’ on that subject

If SchoolBlogs has shown anything, it is that fledgling webloggers need to fall under a more experienced webloggers sphere of influence. The 800 or so blogs created at and fall into three very general categories. Firstly those who have caught the ‘blogging bug’ make up the smallest group. They just blog on with their lives, exploring and problem-solving as they go along. The stars of the edublogging world fall into this category;-)

Secondly, a slightly larger group of blogggers have been introduced to blogging by a colleague or at a conference or training event. The success of these blogs (measured in how regularly and effectively they are used in the classroom afterwards) depends not really on the quality of the course or introduction because blogging software is relatively easy to understand if anyone shows how it is done. Far more important is the aftercare or ‘sphere of influence’ exerted on the new blogger. If he or she has personal contact with more experienced bloggers then success is more likely. This is very much at the heart of blogging success at my school.

Lastly, the largest group of blogs at SchoolBlogs are created and left empty. This is not a software issue. I could easily have stumbled across another piece of blogging software 18 months ago and created the same kind of SB set-up. All weblogging software offers the motivation of publishing quickly and easily to the enormous stage that is the internet. I fell into Manila but methinks the results would have been similar with other software.” [Schoolblogs – The Holy Grail]