Kids Learn to Blog is pleased to recommend Kidblog.org, a top blogging platform on our list of best safe blog sites. Kidblog.org, based in Minneapolis, MN, was founded in 2007 and provides an effective, efficient student-blogging tool for young kids.
Founder and lead developer, Matt Hardy, has 18 years of combined web development and classroom teaching experience to offer a blend of programming and pedagogy. Kids Learn to Blog was given the opportunity to ask Matt Hardy a few questions about their successful blogging platform.
First a bit about Matt Hardy. He has a B.A. in computer science and an M.Ed. in elementary education. Matt founded Kidblog.org in 2007 to meet his own need for a blogging platform that was safe for his 3rd grade students to use.
Here are some of Matt Hardy’s thoughts about the development of educational blogging for young school students and teachers. He was kind enough to answer the following questions.
What is Kidblog?
MH: Kidblog.org is a blogging platform geared toward elementary and middle school students. It is safe and simple to use, with essential post/comment moderation features for the teacher. Kidblog was created by teachers, for teachers, so students can get the most out of the blogging process.
What is the goal of the site?
MH: The goal of Kidblog is to simplify the blogging process for teachers and their students, so they can focus on publishing content without being encumbered by a complex interface. Kidblog gives teachers a venue for inviting students to blog within a controlled, dynamic environment.
How can teachers and students participate?
MH: Teachers can create a class account at http://kidblog.org via our single-page form. Then, teachers can quickly create student accounts with no student email addresses (important for younger students). Teachers have full oversight over all blogging activity that takes place within their class account.
Walk us through the process to set up a blog.
MH: Once user accounts are established, students log in to a simple form where their names are selectable from a list. This unique login feature eliminates the need for students to remember awkward usernames. They simply choose their name, enter their password (supplied by the teacher) and they’re ready to read/post/comment within their class blogging community. The latest post from members of a class show up in a “feed” via a unique class URL (e.g. kidblog.org/yourclassname).
How do you address safety issues online and for members?
MH: Teachers have full administrative control over all comments, posts, and privacy settings. As the administrator of the class, teachers have the ability to preview and approve (or unapprove) content published by students.
At Kidblog, user accounts are managed entirely by the teacher. Other available blogging platforms establish individual student accounts as independent entities, leaving the teacher with little control over those accounts. At Kidblog, all student accounts exist in the context of a “class” – and the teacher is the Administrator of every member of their class. This extra layer of control truly sets Kidblog apart from all other popular blogging services.
Kidblog does not collect any personal information from students, making us a perfect choice for students under 13 (in accordance with COPPA guidelines). Furthermore, students are never subjected to advertising of any kind, so teachers can feel comfortable knowing that the publishing environment is free from unpredictable distractions.
Ultimately, like any school activity, teachers are responsible for establishing Internet safety guidelines with their students. Kidblog facilitates this effort by gearing our service specifically to teachers and younger students.
What are the advantages of joining Kidblog?
MH: Kidblog is a free service that has many advantages for teachers and students in elementary/middle school. Our streamlined publishing interface provides only the features and menus that are relevant to students. The teacher’s control panel contains additional options that facilitate post/comment moderation. Teachers have range of unique blog visibility settings that allow blogs to range from totally private to fully public. User creation/management is extremely easy, and no student emails are required.
Our customer support is also personalized and responsive, providing teachers with peace of mind, knowing we’re here to help with technical support issues. We also gladly offer ideas for successfully implementing Kidblog in various contexts in the classroom.
What would you like to share with our readers?
MH: For years, blogs have been heralded as having the potential to revolutionize student-centered publishing in the classroom. However, teachers have been frustrated about existing tools’ lack of teacher oversight within the online community. Kidblog helps fulfill the promise of blogs as an engaging, authentic publishing/discussion tool for use in the classroom. Our unique safety controls and user management features allow teachers to confidently unleash students’ potential as authors and collaborators within a secure online environment.
Any additional information you would like us to know about your approach to blogging for kids?
MH: Blogging is often viewed as an opportunity for student authors to merely publish content. But recent evidence demonstrates that blogs’ true power lies in the discussion process, not just the publishing process. Once a post is published, student authors find real motivation and insight as blog visitors leave comments related to their posts. The author can join the discussion as well, creating a rich dialogue about the content they’ve generated. Students find it particularly motivating when visitors from outside the class (if privacy settings allow it) come across a student’s post and leave a comment. In this way, students realize the goal of publishing for a real audience in an authentic context. We’re honored that Kidblog.org has given inspiration to tens of thousands of young authors all around the world. Happy Blogging!