Are you a teacher struggling to make the conventional classroom more interesting? Do you want students to experience better growth and development in their studying performance? Then blogging may be the key solution.
As we’ll soon find out in this Edublogs review, blogging isn’t just a random rambling activity. There is plenty of constructive stuff going on in the back scene and the best part is, you get to choreograph how things turn out.
In the next few minutes, we’ll be exploring what this platform can (or can’t) do and how it could potentially make teaching more rewarding for you and your students.
What Is Edublogs
Edublogs is a blogging network created by an education technology company called Campus Press. Since 2005, it has been providing WordPress powered websites for teachers, schools, and universities.
In case you don’t know, WordPress is a software for creating websites. Some people use it as hobby blogs while others use it to build company profiles, or in your case, an education website. It has many customizable features and its architecture is made to support content publishing and information sharing.
Web hosting services are necessary to make these sites work, hence the two components are usually offered together, packed into varying plans. This gives users the option to choose based on budgets and functionality. At its core, Edublog is both a hosting and publishing platform; the company handles hosting technicalities while you focus on building your blog.
There are generally 3 types of plans available;
- Free – A basic student/class management system that comes with 1 GB storage space, full privacy options, and an ad-free environment, among others. It is best for teachers who’re new to blogging.
- Pro – Has all the free features plus an additional 50 GB storage space, search engine visibility, use of a custom domain, and email subscription. This plan costs $7.95 per month or $39.95 per year and it’s best for long term classroom blogging activities.
- Campus Press – A fully custom designed website that supports larger databases and networks. This system is specifically for schools, districts, and universities. This plan usually costs within the range of thousands per year.
If you’re creating this blog out of your own initiatives, chances are, you’d go for the Free or Pro plans, which is more than enough to run a decent classroom blog.
How to Create a Site With Edublogs
Getting your site on Edublogs is fairly straightforward. At the main website, click on ‘sign up’ and promptly fill out the details required. Note that the site comes with the extension .edublogs.org. which is basically a subdomain. This would be the case for all sites provided under the free plan.
Right after this step, you should be able to log into the site, coming into what we call the WordPress user dashboard. On your left-hand side (the darker panel) are the key features and on the right side (the lighter panel) are the expansion for each feature.
Here’s a brief outline to give you an idea what some of the features can do;
- My Class – Control the accessibility and privacy of the blog among students.
- Posts/Pages – Publish content in the form of chronological blog posts or static pages.
- Media – An online library to house all media content such as images, audio, video, documents, and spreadsheets.
- Comments – A section to view and moderate comments from students.
- Appearance – A group of designing features that control the appearance and navigational properties of a blog. Here’s where you can change WordPress themes, add widgets, re-arrange menus, and such.
- Plugins – Various web components to tweak the functionality of blog posts/pages.
- Users – Manage administrator’s profiles and accessibility.
- Tools – Allows you to import/export sites (aka backup content) and manage email subscriptions.
- Settings – Manage general blog formats and payment settings, if you’re planning to get donations on your website.
The Advantages of Edublogs
Blogging is a lot like writing but unlike the physical form, digitally journalizing lesson plans and class activities can have profound impacts on your teaching efforts.
(1) As an educator, Edublogs provides a plethora of features to plan, personalize, organize and broadcast resources and lessons in a systematic manner. This method of referencing will offer better clarity on the education objectives and student accomplishments. Chances are, it will also reflect on the quality of your teaching and prompt you to improve on your weaknesses along the way.
(2) For the students, classroom blogging can serve as a powerful tool to engage the mind and empower literacy skills especially among kids who are visual learners, introverts, or simply dislike writing. Seeing how online information is flooding the minds of kids nowadays, getting them to participate in online discussions can perhaps teach them a thing or two about the ethics of becoming a digital citizen.
The good news is students can also create a free website and use it as a personal platform to express their creativity and ideas without being judged by others. Who knows, the blog can someday become a portfolio to help them better prepared for the job market.
(3) Through blogging, parents can be invited to participate in class activities and view the student’s progress in real-time. This will help them better understand how their kids are interacting with others and how they fare academically.
(4) For the community as a whole, blogging can inspire other teachers to do the same for their classes and motivates students to become more proactive learners beyond the boundaries of the textbooks.
Here are two Edublogs examples you can check out;
Shemo Gani is a preschool teacher based in China and frequently blogs about creative techniques to help children with critical thinking and problem-solving.
Becky Versteeg is a veteran teacher who has taught in all K-12 levels. She uses her blog to post homework, share interesting multimedia, and interact with parents remotely.
The Disadvantages of Using Edublogs
As interesting as it may sound, the platform isn’t without its own limitations. There are a few things to be aware of if you’re planning to blog primarily with Edublogs.
(1) Firstly, the free plan doesn’t offer any ownership. Since it’s built on a subdomain, the company reserves the right to halt publishing or suspend your account at any time. This isn’t to say you’ll be doing anything wrong.
It simply means you don’t have control over the blog’s online presence. If it gets shut down and no backup was done, all your effort are likely to go wasted.
(2) Also, the free plan doesn’t come with search engine visibility because it doesn’t allow custom domain and an SEO plugin. What this means is that Google as well as other students or teachers, will not be able to discover your blog organically on the web.
This is totally fine if you want to make discussions private, but if you’re planning to share your work with a bigger online community, upgrading to the Pro plan will be a better move.
(3) Having looked through some of the teachers’ blogs, I found that most aren’t web/mobile friendly. Don’t get me wrong though; these sites have superb content but their formats, navigational elements, and website designs pale in comparison to most modern blogs we see.
With over 400 premium themes to choose from, I’m sure the outcome could have been better if proper training is given in this area.
(4) The WordPress features installed with these plans are mainly for educational purposes. Fundraising is as far as you could go in terms of making money, but if you’re talking about generating online income as a teacher, that isn’t going to work with Edublogs.
(5) Lastly, a content management system like WordPress comes with a bit of a learning curve. Some people are able to quickly adapt to the functionalities while others might struggle a bit, putting the pieces together. So it’s quite subjective, depending on individuals.
Overall, Edublogs is a good platform to enter the blogging world while picking up a few handy web skills. It keeps all your digital resources in one place and gives you a professional interface to interact with students and parents remotely.
As your educational blog continues to grow in content and audience size, there will come a time when you may want to venture beyond the limitations of classroom teachings. That’s where these Edublogs alternatives come in.
#1 – SiteRubix
SiteRubix is a domain and hosting platform that runs on the free WordPress software. The free plan lets you experiment with all kinds of plugins and themes. With the paid plan, you’ll get step-by-step training on how to set up a WordPress site properly for SEO.
This platform lets you monetize through affiliate marketing and product selling so it’s suitable for entrepreneurial-minded teachers. If this sounds like you, create a blog using the free domain builder down below.
#2 – WordPress.com
WordPress.com is a commercialized hosting platform that also runs on the free WordPress software. It comes with 1 free and 4 paid plans (5 in total) that are preinstalled with specific features. Just like the one before, you can use it as a blog or sell stuff.
This platform is suitable for those who want to handle minimal web technicalities while still enjoying the powerful integration of WordPress.
#3 – Website Builders
Website builders are made up of functional blocks and often use intuitive designs to guide you through the process. What you see on the back-end is exactly what your blog will look like on the front-end. A few popular platforms to choose from are Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and GoDaddy.
If you’re visual-oriented and prefer something that’s super easy to use, you may like using these platforms.
Well, this sums up my Edublogs review. I hope you’ve found something valuable and ready to launch your first class blog using WordPress. Meanwhile, check out my recommended online community if you’re interested to take blogging to the next level.