Review by Kirstin Sobotka, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2014
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Edublogs

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Intuitive, safe tool lets students write for authentic audience

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
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Pros: Creating student or teacher blogs is a snap; extensive user resources provide support, if needed.

Cons: Some of the best features are available only with a paid subscription.

Bottom Line: Simple but flexible tool lets teachers and students safely create, publish, and share content online.

Teachers might use Edublogs as their dedicated classroom website or as just one element of their class's community resources. They might set up individual pages for different classes and post information about upcoming class meetings or events to the relevant pages. Teachers with the paid version could create individual blogs for students, offering them an opportunity to track their own progress or assemble digital portfolios. The blogging format would provide a great starter platform for teachers wanting to try to flip part of their classroom because video and podcasts can be uploaded in addition to documents and images. Students can also particpate in the blogging challenges via their dashboard.

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Edublogs offers a simple, visually appealing interface that teachers and students can use to create and publish content online. Teachers can create a free classroom blog without ads or spam; for a monthly fee, they can create individual blogs for their students that include such features as post moderation and password protection. Teachers create a username, password, and custom URL for their blog site and then customize the blog's themes, color schemes, and formats. Edublogs uses the Wordpress blogging platform, which has great built-in features for editing text and including media such as links and images. Although some features are only available for a fee, there's enough available with the free tools to create a dynamic class website. With the paid features, teachers can create a network of connected student blogs and also add more complex media, such as embedded video and HTML objects (like Google Docs).

Edublogs was created before the popularity of tablets, so the easiest way to blog for most users might still be through their desktop computers. However, the Edublogs app is a worthy alternative to posting from a browser. The app offers instant login to all of a user’s blogs, and it’s easy to toggle among them. The entire feature set that’s available on the Web is also available through the app -- a major boon to users who want consistency across the multiple platforms they might use to access their sites. Most strikingly, the app seems to be a faster, more fluid way than the browser to navigate Edublogs sites on a mobile device. This difference may be negligible to some, and many people might prefer to type at length on a keyboard rather than on a tablet screen. But for brief blog posts, reading, and commenting, Edublogs is exactly the app this speedy, flexible blogging platform deserves.

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Blogging provides an opportunity for students to engage with language in an immediate, purposeful way, and, as such, can be a great tool for learning. Requiring students to read and comment on their teacher’s blog posts adds an immediacy to an assignment that other homework might lack. Additionally, blogging offers students the opportunity to create and publish their own content, which can be a great way for them to meaningfully and actively engage in analysis of a text, lab, or in-class activity. Writing a blog is different from writing for English class: The audience is larger, the stakes are higher, and some students thrive on the rhetorical challenge of organizing and articulating their thoughts for a larger audience. Additionally, a class blog can be a helpful way for a teacher to share information with colleagues, students, and parents, all of which can contribute to a more connected learning community.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Straightforward, flexible tools for posting text and media securely online will engage and empower students to create, publish, and communicate.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

While blogging alone doesn't necessarily develop academic skills, writing for authentic audiences can support and develop core ELA skills.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

User-support resources are extensive, including a detailed online user guide, video tutorials, and a lively support forum. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Kirstin Sobotka Classroom teacher

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