People ask me all the time about keeping a classroom web page or blog, and they are surprised when I tell them how simple it is to maintain once it is set up. I have used a few platforms, and they all have really good strengths. I have settled on WordPress as my preference for teachers, and here is why.
1. Post by email. If you enable Post by email, WP will give you an address to write to. Add that address to your contact list and creating a blog post becomes about as complicated as sending an email. The subject of your message is the title of your post. The body of the email message is your blog post. Feeling brave? Share the email address with your students. They can contribute to the class blog (beyond simply commenting). Don’t worry, you can set it up to require your approval if you prefer.
2. Post by voice. Another feature of WP is the ability to post by voice. WP will generate a phone number for you, with an extension, that you can call and leave a voice post. Your voice post can be an hour long and it is surprisingly good quality. I rarely use this feature (can’t stand the sound of my voice) but can see language teachers and teachers of young children enjoying it. When you call the number you essentially leave a voice mail, and it shows up on your blog. It is titled “Audio Post” but of course you can always change the title.
3. Automatically post to twitter and facebook. If you maintain a twitter account or a facebook page for your class, you can have your post automatically go to those two services. On twitter it posts as a link back to your blog, but on fb it actually posts the body of your message.
4. Email subscription. Parents can click two buttons and subscribe to your blog via email. As a teacher this is a great time saver; you aren’t trying to keep up with a distribution list. If you post more than once in a day, the recipients simply get one email with all the posts together.
To sum up the first four items, image this: You have an announcement or idea you want to express. You send one email and your content is 1. Posted on a webpage (class blog) 2. Sent to a twitter stream 3. Sent to a fb page 4. Sent to an email distribution list that you don’t have to maintain. Have a smart phone? Take a picture of a child’s artwork or other special item and send it to the blog; it will post to all those mediums.
Some more reasons I like a WP include:
5. Detailed user stats. I can see how many people are viewing a web page, which links are being clicked, and which posts from the past are popular.
6. Appearance is important. WP offers a variety of templates. While they aren’t “school specific” they are professional looking and elegant.
7. Mobile viewing is frequently overlooked. WP creates a clean, simple, mobile version of your site for your users who are using phones and small tablets to read your content.
8. Managing multiple blogs is easy. I can start a page for a teacher, help them with the settings, make them the editor of it, and eventually remove myself from it altogether.
9. Built in slide show tool. I don’t use this a lot, but if I had a regular classroom I probably would. As you upload images to a post, you have the option to display them as a slide show or gallery. Each looks great.
10. Great help menus. The tutorials and user forums answer just about everything under the sun.
The WordPress Dashboard can take a little getting used to, but once you get a feel for it, it makes good sense. I think WordPress is a great option for teacher blogs.
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