Comparing Blogging Tools for Educators

When you decide to set up a blog for your students or to share your latest thoughts on education, you have a lot of choices about where to host it. Here is a comparison that can help you choose the right host for you.

Blogger

Blogger’s free hosting service is great for beginning and experienced bloggers alike. It requires some level of HTML coding skill, however, to customize it.

Blogger is part of the Google family, so it is easily accessible from your Google account, and it integrates nicely with Feedburner, if you want to offer an email subscription to your blog. It allows Javascript, so you can easily include interactive widgets, and embedded multimedia, so you can add You Tube videos and podcasts to your posts.

W. Chamberlin, who keeps a blog up for his students, prefers the flexibility of Blogger over other tools.

Edublogs

Edublogs uses an easy content management system that let even a novice Internet user set up a free blog in just a few minutes. It allows embedded multimedia content and 100 different design templates to choose from. It’s offerings are pretty standard for free hosted blooging tools.

But it offers support and community features that help educators connect with one another and use their blogs to best teach their students. There is a forum where teachers can share their ideas and ask questions. The help system is easy to search.

One drawback of edublogs is the limited storage space–only 20 MB.

Live Journal

Live Journal is a community-building tool that not a lot of educators are using for classroom purposes. (Many may have personal journals hosted there.)

Blogging is only a part of the tools offered by Live Journal, and you might find that your students are using it to connect with each other and with like-minded people who watch the same TV shows or movies, listen to the same bands, or have some other interest in common.

Live Journal has strong privacy controls, which would be good for a classroom community that you wanted to keep closed to the rest of the Internet.

WordPress.com

WordPress’s free hosting arm offers an extremely easy to use blogging platform. Even the most novice users can have their blog up and running in a matter of minutes. WordPress allows very few customization options, which is why it is so easy. You don’t need to know any HTML to customize your blog, because the pieces you can customize are done through widgets and appearance options.

WordPress does not allow Javascript or embedded video, so it is best suited for text and still photo entries. This makes it a less than ideal choice for a teacher who uses multimedia materials in their teaching.

However, WordPress does have two good points. It offers good privacy so that you can restrict your blog to current students only. And it cross-pollinates with links to related postss on other WordPress blogs. This little tool can help you connect with real-world materials related to your teaching.

Your Own Site

When you host your blog on your own site, you have the most freedom to post the content you prefer and to integrate advertising. But, it will require more work on your part than the free hosting services. You will need to register your domain and pay for hosting. You will have to choose your blogging content system–Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, Movable Type, among others. And you will have to integrate all of the tools you want to use within your blog.

Your School’s Blogging Platform

If your school or district has a preferred blogging platform, this may be your best option for your class blogs. It will be easy for your students and parents to find it, and you may even be required to use this tool and no others.

If you have any questions about blogging platforms or tips to share for creating and using blogs with your students, feel free to share them in the comments.