Edublogs: blogging for educational institutions

30-May-2013

I’ve just come across Edublogs and thought it would be very interesting to blendedmec readers. If you’ve been thinking about getting your students to blog (and you should), Edublogs could be the perfect blogging platform for you.
 
As the name suggests, Edublogs is an education-focused blogging service, but it doesn’t, as I first assumed, just provide a list of the best and most popular educational blogs out there in the blogosphere. Edublogs is actually an education-specific blogging platform, like WordPress, Blogger or TypePad, designed specifically for teachers, students and educational institutions. It has powered over 1.7 million blogs at the time of writing, so it’s clearly a popular tool. Let’s take a closer look at what it offers, and how you might use it specifically in the ELT classroom…

Edublogs allows you to set up a simple, WordPress-powered blog, with all the administration tools you’d need to manage a group of students. Of course, social networking and blogging within an educational context raises some concerns about security and student safety: Edublogs takes care of all that, allowing you to make your blog private and password protected so that only your group of authorized users can access it and contribute. As the administrator, you can also moderate and edit all comments left, even by those authorized users, so you can keep an eye on what’s being posted by your students and make sure everything’s as it should be. There is a free version as well as premium options, so you can really try out the service before committing financially.
 
So how could you use Edublogs to enhance your current classes? Well, of course starting a blog is a great way of getting your students writing, especially if you set it up as an individual system where each student can blog about anything they’re interested in. Because they’ll feel free to write about their own hobbies and interests, they’ll be much more motivated and will likely put a lot more effort into their work. It will also be a great opportunity for them to learn language related to what they actually need, enjoy and therefore want to talk about, and to find friends within their class or group who share common interests. You never know: they might even expand their Edublogs postings into a real blog and become the next big thing!

Another way you could get students interacting with a blog from a more language-focused perspective would be to put them into groups of two or three at the start of term or the course, and each week allocate a new grammar point or piece of language that you’ve covered to each group. Their aim, together, is to draft, edit and publish a final blog post that explains the rules and exceptions, usages and examples of this particular piece of language. As their teacher, you would obviously correct and edit the final post and make sure they have understood any errors they made, and would be available for further clarification from other students (the readers), but this would pass the responsibility of teaching to the students, and as we all know, teaching someone else is the best way of learning and consolidating something!

Finally, you could also get other staff members involved and use your space for professional development as well as for your students to practise their English. Share useful links, articles, webinars and conferences that you think your colleagues would find useful, or even start your own blog spot about teaching!

These are just a couple of ideas of setting up a school or class blog, whether it’s with Edublogs or any another blogging platform. But there are endless ways of using blogs in the EFL classroom. Have you and your students been blogging, or have you got questions or concerns before starting? We’d love to know so please leave us a comment in the box below!

Becca

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