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Posterous offers the opportunity for class blogging free from some of the limitations of a standard school VLE. It allowed my students to use a versatile and flexible platform which would enable multi-posting and the potential to open up to wider audiences.
The Year 8 class (students aged between 12-13), were scheduled to work on a group Media project. After discussion, they decided to create a site in which they tried to offer help and advice to their parent in understanding how they use technology.
Initial ideas for features included: a guide to the mysteries of facebook and chatrooms; advice on which phone is best for a child; and advice on how long their children should be allowed to spend on the net.
We wanted to go beyond the class magazines/newspaper approach and so, together, created the following brief using in terms of a TAPs analysis:
Type: multi-media blog;
Purpose: writing to argue, persuade or advise.
Although the easiest arrangement would have been to create a new site ‘off’ s3atlarge, it seemed better that a school’s site should not ‘point’ to an independent site.
One of the joys of Posterous is that it automates so many things. However, I couldn’t find a way of removing links back to my personal site. It took a little while to work out that one way was to severe the link to my primary email address by creating a new dedicated email account.
The ‘How to Do It’ bit:
Create an email account simply for the project. I used gmail. This meant that the site would link directly to this account and that all notifications coming from successful points could gather in one place.
Using this new email account, create a new Posterous account. URLs do tend to be rather long, so I used a shortened form for the primary site with a longer name appearing on pages.
Having logged in to Posterous, use the Manage section to add the emails of students as Contributors who wish to post directly to the site. Students can also create dedicated email accounts for this to give greater personal security. (Our school network seemed happy with gmail accounts but we seemed to meet some restrictions on hotmail equivalents.)
During the writing process (and practice phase) I ‘locked down’ the system with a password so that only my class could read the posts. This gave us some time to practice posting, enabled some peer proof-reading, encouraged students to compare the ‘look’ of different kinds of posts, and let me keep an eye on the content and any personal security issues e.g We discovered that forwarded emails gave full details of email addresses and so these were edited out.
The password can then be either given out to the intended audience (in this case – their parents) to allow reading and comment posting, or removed entirely to let the site ‘go live’.
That’s where we are up to at the moment. Once parents have had a look and everyone is happy, I’ll remove the password and post a link here. Here’s the link!
The students were genuinely excited at the idea of writing for a real audience, and it would be great if they could see their work being read beyond their local community. Perhaps we can track this using Google analytics in due course.