Experimenting with Blogger (Google Apps for Education)

Now that my school is a year into using Google Apps for Education, everyone is familiar and comfortable with the main features, especially Gmail and Google Drive. There are other features worth exploring, however. For example, it takes literally less than a minute to set up a blog from your Google account. Let me show you how.

First, click on your shortcut menu in Gmail. Google often changes the architecture of its layout, but for now it’s in the top right side. When you click, you will see several App icons.

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Click “more” to see the Blogger icon on the bottom right:

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The blogger home will appear in a new tab. There is a list of your blogs (empty if you are new to this), and big button labeled “New Blog.” After clicking it, you must enter a name and url for your blog, and you are also given templates of how you want your blog to look (you can change this later, so don’t fret too much over the choice):

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The next step is to start blogging. Coetail members are already familiar with how to do this. Coetail uses wordpress, but blogger is not too different. If you prefer to set up outside of the Google world, here is an ed tech guide to setting up a wordpress blog.

Now that we’ve got the technical stuff behind us, let’s talk about how to use your new blogs. My primary interest is getting students involved with blogging. This can be tricky territory, especially if there is no precedent at your school. Some schools charged ahead with student blogging years ago; others have never considered it. Jeff Utecht makes a good case for student blogging (check out his free ebook). If you only want to experiment, there are steps you can take to keep the blogs private. On your blogger dashboard, click on the “settings” tab. This is where you will add authors (perhaps your students) and decide who has access to your blog.

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Right now I plan to use this as another outlet to publish my students’ videos. Later on, I think the transition from digital learning logs to individual student blogs is a natural one, but we will take things slowly.

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9 Responses to Experimenting with Blogger (Google Apps for Education)

  1. Hi Jeff, Our school is a little further down the G path than yours. I have had the JH students on Blogger all this year, and concur with Jeff Utecht about how effective it is for the students. Thanks for pointing out the shortcut. The G4 students are also using Blogger, so I look forward to moving forward year by year.

    Reply
    • Jeff Lewis says:

      Thanks, Kevin. I’d love to see some of your students’ blogs…are they public? Do you have specific projects you use them for, or are the students free to write about whatever they choose?

      Reply
  2. Hi Jeff, we are a Google Apps school and have recently switched to Blogger as our ePortfolio platform. All of our middle school students are required to have an ePortfolio. It’s optional in elementary school, but most of our ES students have ePortfolios and most recently, our first graders just opened their own blog for sharing and reflecting. I’ve been doing a lot of research on portfolios and posted some of my findings as my final Course 2 project. I’m interested in feedback and suggestions from other educators exploring a similar path. link to coetail.com
    We have some classes that are getting ready to connect with other schools and classes. Keep us in mind when/if you decide to have your students connect with others. Thanks for sharing Jeff’s book!

    Reply
    • Jeff Lewis says:

      Thanks, Carlina, I have just started to think about using Blogger, so we are farther behind you, but we have had conversations at my school about moving towards ePortfolios as well. I will check out your post and reply at your blog. And I am definitely interested in having our students connect. I’ll be in touch!

      Reply
  3. Rebekah Madrid says:

    Looking forward to seeing what the next steps of blogger at your school look like!

    Reply
  4. Janet says:

    I am the adminstrator for our Google Apps for Education accounts.

    We want to set up a classroom blog. I started one in my account through Blogger.

    I added some teachers as authors to the blog. I don’t want to give out my password. How do I enable posting for authors? Eventually, I’d like the students to join.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Jeff Lewis says:

      Hi, Janet, in Blogger go to Settings –> Permissions –> Add Authors.

      Once you add people, they should be able to write posts with their own usernames (and not need your password). Do your students have their own google accounts too? If so, you can also add them as authors.

      Reply
  5. Thom says:

    We’re a Google Apps For Education school and want to get our middle schoolers on Blogger. Is there any problems you run into being that the students are under 13? Are there any restrictions for younger students? We’re hoping for all students to have their own blog (as opposed to having one blog that all the students are editing)

    Reply
    • Jeff Lewis says:

      Hi, Thom, I believe that’s a gray area, but if the school controls the google accounts, you should be okay. It also might depend on which country you’re in. If you’re concerned about privacy, you can always change the settings of the blogs so only certain people can view them (though that would limit the audience).

      Reply

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