Tools for your gated blog

General profile: Class Blogs uses a version of the popular WordPress blog software. It is designed for school or college use and has all features of WordPress blogs, possibly making it overwhelming for a beginning blogger or blogging teacher. If you and your students can ignore the multiple tools and options and keep to the basics, you can be up and blogging quickly. The option for a teacher to add as many free blogs as you wish makes it a very open tool. The only limit is on your actual storage space, so avoid uploading a lot of media. Instead, use url links to images and videos elsewhere on the web, if you know how. The file storage space is actually quite reasonable, but tech-savvy students could fill it easily. This tool also includes may extras, such as a gradebook for tracking students’ work on the class blog and assignments given there. Here is a very quick sample teacher blog done by our review team.

Although the help pages talk about an “easy and advanced blogging mode” of the Dashboard controls where you write and run your blog, we were unable to find the simper toolbar.

A versatile, full-service blog tool built on WordPress software and better suited for secondary students and/or teachers who want full blog options. Unlike Edublogs, Class Blogs seems to have good loading speed during busy school days, perhaps because they are not as well known(?)

Features available: Yes/no What they call it, and how to find it Reviewer comments
Password-protect entire blog
When in Dashboard, look on left for Settings> Privacy. Choose from several options.

“Subscribers” are people who are registered readers of your blog.

Choices of blog appearance

Themes (under Appearance menu at the very top)

Over 150 theme choices
Customization of appearance with own graphics
Not found, unless you know CSS With over 150  available themes, you still have quite a few choices.
Teacher-managed registration options

Settings> users > add user. Be sure to set the user LEVEL. As the administrator of the blog, you control registrations.

To add several students and give them each a blog, go to Users> Blog and user creator.  Select the Create Blogs tab and follow instructions carefully!

There are several levels of “membership” in your blog. The easiest is to set parents as “subscribers” and students  as “students.”  More on user levels here.

Carefully select blog and user names for safety!

See “If your users do not have email addresses you can use this Gmail method to add your users!” to register students without individual emails.

There are Help links about a bulk enrollment feature, but they lead nowhere. Apparently this feature is not available.

Teacher-managed posting options

See user levels for writing posts. For greatest teacher control over student posts, change “students” to “contributors” whose posts must be approved before they can show. This is a good option for students who are “on probation” after questionable blogging behavior.
Teacher-managed commenting options

Settings > Discussion. Choose from several settings. Recommended:

  • Users must be registered and logged in to comment 
  • An administrator must always approve the comment 
Teacher-approval of posts and comments
Depends on your settings. See above.  
Teacher-managed control over what different members can “see”
Set user levels carefully  
Other capabilities
Many widgets, and plug-ins(some free, some at extra cost). See sidebar menu in Dashboard.  
RSS Feeds

Visible in top right of each publicly viewable blog when users are NOT logged in.

For private blogs, you will need to add the RSS feed widget to each blog, since there is no “public” view of these blogs.
Subscribe to each blog feed separately. This could be time consuming to set up if you have 100+ students, each with a separate blog.  There is no master location for teachers to see all student blog activity on one screen.
Help available

Some links to “in context” help included in various Settings pages.
Support Knowledge Base and Support tickets. Under “My Sites” menu at the top of your Dashboard, choose ClassBlogs Help and Support and click “visit site

See Settings> WP Guides for generic Wordpress guides to many features. Many are written for intermediate and advanced users.

Click FAQ at the top of the support page for the questions most teachers will have. Some links do not work, but their blog posts are informative.

Live chat shows as a help possibility, though it was not available at the time of our review.

Other comments:

The tool does not seem to be extremely “busy.” Most of the posts on their own blog (which describes features, etc) are minimal and not very recent. The tool does work, however.