Schools in the UK are riding the crest of the blogging wave, using a range of different often free or open source tools to publish work and ideas and capture the power of ‘audience’. Whilst this approach to blogging is clearly having a great impact in some schools, it is often limited to the public domain. Whilst public celebration and collaboration is one way to promote children’s learning in areas such as writing in schools, in order to create a sustainable online blogging environment, more thought and development needs to be paid to the tools and how they are structured and managed for students. The administration of hundreds of users in a school owning blogs and the approval/monitoring of these can cause headaches for teachers and administrators, as do the questions around tools which are suitable for teachers to enjoy the buzz of global collaboration but are not appropriate to be handed over to individual students to use and administer. These are some of the reasons which have led Microsoft partner LP+ to integrate the SharePoint2010 blog so heavily into their new online offering, LP+4.
LP+4 Blogging in action on SharePoint 2010
5 Reasons why SharePoint 2010 is a now great tool for blogging:
1. Simple, familiar interface – The SharePoint 2010 interface is easy on the eye and offers familiarity to users of all ages through the Office Ribbon that appears when users are writing. You can edit text and content in the same way you do using any other Microsoft Office product and the funky designs make these spaces ones which children and teachers enjoy and associate with.
2. Add Rich Content & Media Quickly - It’s now a doddle to add in content such as pictures, links and videos using the ‘insert’ tab. No longer do you need to upload your media somewhere in SharePoint first and then link in pictures from there.
3. Structure and Workflow – Arguably the biggest advantage of using the LP+4 SharePoint Blog tool is the management and structure. Through auto provisioning from a school’s MIS, blogs are automatically created for users, classes, subjects and other sites within a school and all permissions and approvals set. This means that children and staff can access different blogs through their own accounts and approval workflows built in for publishing depending on a school’s needs.
4. Collaborate or go public! – By building the blog tool into collaborative schools spaces; children, parents and teachers can collaborate safely and securely within their school environment using. The nice thing on LP+4 is that there is now custom code written so that blog posts can ‘Go Public’, if schools want to allow their bloggers to post through to a public audience. This means that blogging is now both a private collaboration tool and one to share and celebrate work and news in public.
5. Belt and Braces Security – Although blogging is predominately an ‘individual’ art, there are issues around data ownership, security, back-ups etc. which can make Head teachers and schools hesitant to embrace this type of technology across a school. LP+4 Blogs are hosted in a tier 4 data centre with profanity screening, item level restore and all the other requirements to satisfy Acceptable Use Policies, eSafety guidelines and Data Protection legislation. This way the blog tools allows both the ‘individual’ experience of web 2.0 and the ‘institutional’ management and safeguards to make it safe and sustainable.
LP+4 is now live in schools across the UK and growing into a number of Local Authorities and other global territories. To see LP+4 in action, visit www.lpplus4.com and look out for the roadshows in the summer term via @tweetlpplus
There is also a video on blogging with LP+4.