Tools for your gated blog

General profile:
Blogger is owned by Google and available for free for the public. It is part of Google’s suite of tools. It is not specifically designed or adapted for educational use. Blogger places small, text-based advertisements on your blog and is designed so commercial bloggers can also earn money with their blogs. A major drawback is the “next blog” button that invites student curiosity and may bring up content inappropriate for school. This alone has caused many schools to block Blogger entirely. If you, your school parents, or your school administration prefers closely-held controls on your classroom blog, Blogger may not be your best option. It is not designed as a fully “gated” blog.

The Google Educators forum offers some ideas for using gmail and Blogger with students, including how to get rid of the "next blog" button (not for beginners).

The user side is VERY easy, with a new user interface in early 2012. The start-up of a blog using Blogger is VERY simple. It uses the same account as other Google tools, such as Google Docs.  The ability to choose your own URL (if available) is a help for forgetful students.

Overall: A simple-to-use tool for those who do NOT need the full security of a fully-gated blog and may want the integration of Google’s other tools. Best for classes/students who already have Google accounts, such as for Google Docs.

Features available: Yes/no What they call it,
and how to find it
Reviewer comments
Password-protect entire blog
  You can limit who “sees”the blog to those you specifically allow, but the permission will be based on allowing specific people “in” by their Google memberships, not by password. This would require having user accounts for all students on Google, which defeats the purpose of protecting users.
Choices of blog appearance
Choose a Template The options are common looks you have seen on the web.
Customization of appearance with own graphics
Create a Custom Design Template Can be changed at any time.
Labels Use the tools at the right of the post form to enter labels, separated by commas.
Teacher-managed registration options

Not Really

Register members under Settings> Permissions > Blog authors. Not designed specifically for teachers Members must have email accounts and will be asked to set up associated Google accounts. Click to add authors (comma-separated list of emails) and an email goes out “inviting” them.
Teacher-managed posting options
Posts only allowed by registered members of the blog. Registration is the only limit they offer. Only one level of “author” available. You cannot assign differing levels or capabilities to different people, such as parents vs students.
Teacher-managed commenting options
Under Settings>Comments> Who Can Comment? 

Comment controls can also be specified for each blog post using “Options” at the right.
To completely control posts/comments, set choice to Members only, then register only your class members if you wish to restrict commenting to your students. You also have the option of “registered users only” for comments, but this does not prevent someone from a becoming registered user on their own.
Teacher-approval of posts and comments
Settings> Comments> Who can Comment

See also: Comment Moderation
Choose Members Only and/or turn on moderation for complete control over what is “published.”
Teacher-managed control over what different members can “see”
Settings>Basic> Blog Readers Click EDIT to change from “anybody.”  To “only blog authors” or  “Only these readers” (you specify a list.  See above re inviting authors. Add readers  here by clicking “add.” If you want your students to be able to WRITE posts, they must be authors on the blog and thus can also comment using the “only blog authors” setting. Remember that any authors or members must have Google accounts.
Other capabilities
Keep blog out of public listings.

Spam controls-- turn on at Settings> Comments>
Under Settings> Basics> Add your Blog to our listings? Choose NO to limit how many people can “find” it via web searches, but not completely hide it from public view. SPAM filtering is turned on by default.
RSS Feeds
Settings> site feeds Monitor all posts and comments via an RSS feed to a teacher feed reader such as Google Reader. This will save you time accessing changes and comments on multiple blogs.
Help available
  Help appears in pop-up windows, which enable you to read the help and do the tasks as you read.

User comments:
(from Maria Angala)

  • free!
  • user friendly
  • has the easiest management application I’ve seen so far
  • I guide the teachers step-by-step in creating their own class blogs. In less than 10 minutes, most often than not, they’re able to learn to get it up and running and they’re able to upload files and create their “Welcome” and “Rules for Using this Blog”