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Getting Your Blog Account

There are a number of places where you can get a free blog account. I have detailed two of the biggest first and then have given you links to others to look around. Which one is the best? I think that depends on what type of blog you want. The easiest to probably get up and running with is Blogger but there are good features within the others too.

Blogger

external image Blogger.com_id_41a44c241fc01.jpg Blogger is the oldest blog provider on the net and is well set for any of your blogging needs. You can have one up and running within minutes. Follow the steps at www.blogger.com to get an account of your own. If you get stuck setting up a page, you can always consult the extensive help section. A New Zealand teacher has made a step by step guide to setting up a Blogger blog here. There is another excellent and extremely detailed guide on how to use blogger which is available from here (this is a pdf download). You can download an add-in for Word that lets you publish straight from Word to your blog (PC only). However, Blogger is not designed specifically for education so it could be a really good idea to look at the options below that are!


21Classes

21 Classes is a newcomer to the educational blog arena but looks really promising in a class situation. This is a list of key features from their websiteexternal image 21classes-banner-sq.jpg.
  • Class homepage to communicate with students
  • Independent yet inter-connected blog accounts for students
  • Central console to manage students accounts with control over accounts and content
  • Multiple Options for registration process
  • Review capabilities of student entries and ability to moderate comments on students' blogs.
  • Upload images or insert videos
  • Make all or selected students' writings private
  • Selection of templates or your own CSS editing
  • Customizable headers
  • Hosted application – no installation, automatic updates, no hassle
  • FREE SERVICE with on demand upgrade options

Edublogs

Edublogs is another place to get a free account. The site has been designed by teachers and allows for the inclusion of video and podcasts. There are forums on how to use blogs for education and a lot of suport in how to use it effectively. There are premium accounts (that cost) to set up blogs for an entire school that allow for administration tasks to be performed across all of the blogs. Video tutorials are available here.
List of features from their website:
  • Contemporary, customisable themes
  • Spell-check, Previews, Autosave, Words, Photos, Podcasts, Videos etc.
  • Import from other blogging sites – or export back to them.
  • Great support and community
  • Comment safe - stops spam and allows for moderation
  • It’s not (just) the technology, it’s the pedagogy too

Vox

external image screenshotcompose.pngVox is another very attractive and easy to use blogging option. This one is not designed specifically for education. It's strength is the number of attractive templates that you can choose from. It also has great integration with some other web 2.0 tools like Flickr. You can choose the privacy level for every post, every picture, every sound clip, every video. You can use the neighbourhood function to be informed about posts from other Vox bloggers making it like a social network. Vox is the only service that combines words, images, music, books, audio and video and it has a generous data limit.


WordPress


external image wordpressscreenshot.jpgWordPress is a good looking and well-structured personal blog provider. It has a large supporting community and attractive themes with extra free templates/themes for it on the Internet. Additionally, there are plugins for WP such as image gallery. WP has a built-in search tool and archive. When reading through reviews of blogs, this one often came up on top. I like the way you can add pages and categories to your blog and found if pretty easy to add content. However, I stayed with Blogger as I could add more widgets with Blogger.



Email tools for blogging

Posterous

Using email to write blogs
external image posterous_logo.pngThis is an extremely simple concept. Anyone can get a blog going by sending an email to post@posterous.com. This email is converted into a blog post on a site that is automatically setup for your email address. Every time you send another email from the same email address it will be converted and added to this website as the latest post. Even better is the fact that if you send photo, mp3 or file attachments, these will be automatically added in a very web-friendly format for people to view or listen to online. I tried it out and the results of this can be seen at http://suzie_ogyqs.posterous.com/ You will notice that the name of my site is not that userfriendly. If I had set up an account BEFORE sending in my first email, I could have chosen the part of the URL that goes before posterous.com.

Nourish

Subscribing to blogs via email
external image picture-5.jpgMany of the parent communities we work with are not all that familiar with technologies such as RSS. However, most people have email and will check this regularly. Nourish allows you to turn a feed (or a combination of feeds) into something that people can subscribe to by email. You can add a button to your website where people can click on and add their email addresses into to subscribe. You can also add addresses in yourself so that those people will get the email newsletter. People will be able to unsubscribe by clicking a link in their email if they don’t want to receive these emails. This would also be great for someone who wants to keep check on the activity happening in online spaces such as a school ICT lead teacher or a principal. They could combine all the feeds from the teacher blogs/ wikis and have these being sent as a digest to their email.

RSS Forward

external image site_logo.png?1178035857 A similar tool to Nourish in that people can subscribe to a feed by email and you can put a button onto your site that people can click on to enter their email address.


Free Blog templates


BTemplates

external image Life-Collage-225x128.jpgA great site for Blogger templates is 'BTemplates'. They have a massive range of templates that cover a range of styles.

Their sidebar navigation makes it simple to navigate through all of their templates by searching through layouts such as 1 to 4 column layouts through to searching by styles and colours. There are over a thousand templates here, I'm not guaranteeing that you'll find 1 you love as I often find myself contemplating between 2 or more!


The Cutest Blog on the Block

external image turkeytalk3columncopy.jpg.jpgGives you free background templates that you can use with your Blogger blog. Once you choose your template, it gives you detailed instructions on how to apply it to your blog.







Adding widgets

'Pimp Your Blog'

No - this isn't me being inappropriate. This means how to get those fun things on your blog you may have seen on other people's blogs such as embedded videos from uTube and more. These things that you can add to your blog are called 'widgets'. I have a companion wiki called Learning Web 2 that gives detailed information on my favourites.

Bling For Your Blog A great site with a huge number of ideas on how to jazz up your sites. It also explains HOW to add objects to your blog/wiki.

There is an extensive list of blogging tools linked to from this wikipedia page on blogging software.