Technology is increasingly becoming commonplace in schools across the world. More teachers are realizing the educational benefits that an iPad or an Android tablet can provide in the classroom, with the tablets’ clear displays and variety of apps all helping students learn. Now, blogging is taking off, with individual classes or schools keeping up a tailored blog.
These blogs have numerous benefits for all parties, allowing teachers to alter their learning styles, pupils to become accustomed to using web creation tools, and parents to have a greater real-time engagement with the developments in their children’s classrooms. The increasing use of technologies such as blogging and tablet PCs also has ecological benefits, allowing schools and teachers to reduce their paper use and generally minimize their reliance on disposable resources.
Sensing a market opportunity, WordPress has acted quickly, offering a range of education-specific themes (with names such as Chalk, Academica and BookLite) for its free blogging software under the category of “Classrooms”. The themes also highlight blogging elements that are likely to be of interest to parents, teachers and schools, including a focus on privacy and security, easy document uploads, multimedia opportunities, methods of interaction, and the sharing of school or class calendars. This looks like a canny move on the part of WordPress, with the site’s ease of use and relative simplicity likely to appeal to schools, pupils and teachers, and increase the likelihood of extra income being generated through premium features such as custom domain names, tailored design, extra storage or native video hosting.
Already, WordPress is proudly showcasing notable examples of school or class-based blogs on its website, with the three examples highlighted clearly chosen to showcase the concept’s broad range of applications. The first, titled “The Paper-Free Class Experiment”, details the efforts of an eighth grade Language Arts teacher to increase the use of technology in his classroom through online learning, and seems mostly designed as a repository of information for pupils and teachers, with topics such as Class Rules, Baseline Testing and How to Save to Your Student Portal.
The second site, “CSR 5th Grade” is based, as the name might suggest, on the educational adventures of a 5th grade class, and consequently the emphasis is on the visuals, with photo galleries cataloguing class trips and special events.
Finally, the blog from West Des Moines Community Schools Technology is also highlighted, which, again, adopts a more technical voice, with posts concerning the intricacies of the college’s intranet and teachers highlighting iPad apps they like to use in the classroom. Much of the site seems to be aimed at staff, and the remainder often seems like PR, with the college keen to convey an image of itself as forward thinking and technologically aware. This is typified by the fact that the first post on the blog refers to the fact that it has been chosen as an exemplary educational site by WordPress.
It is clear that there are classrooms and schools for whom blogging is a useful resource. Blogging enhances their teaching and helps to keep interested parties informed and aware. A wider adoption of this practice will though depend on resources, enthusiasm and time available for such projects. As yet, we cannot tell whether blogging at school will become more widely established – though WordPress no doubt has its fingers crossed.