Before I tell you about how you might use a blog in the classroom, let’s look at one of the easiest ways you can put your toe into the warm blog waters. There are several blog platforms available. Some require a web hosting plan, but two of the most popular do not and are free.
My personal favorite is WordPress. It offers a free beginners website that allows you to try out many of its features. If you desire more features, you can purchase a web hosting plan and install WordPress on that host. On most hosting plans, installing WordPress software is free . A WordPress installation on your own hosting service adds flexibility and allows you to use a wide array of tools to customize how your blog looks.
The first step to creating a blog at WordPress.com is to go to the site and select Create Website. On the page shown below, enter the site address you wish to use for your website.
In the case above, I have entered the name djgraser2. This means the sites website is djgraser2.wordpress.com. All free WordPress site names consist of a prefix you choose followed by .wordpress.com. If you want a more custom name, you can purchase further services from WordPress (see below) or use a hosting service.
After selecting Create Your Site and Continue, you’ll be taken to a page where you can establish a username and password with WordPress. This allows you to log into your WordPress site to make changes and to add posts and pages.
Enter an email, username and password. These are the credentials that you will use to log into WordPress.com. Select Next Step.
On the next screen you have the option to purchase a domain name for your blog. THis allows you to a different name from djgraser2.wordpress.com. Since we are just getting started, select No Thanks at the bottom of the page.
In the next screen, you can choose the overall look of your blog. A theme determines the colors, menus, columns and over characteristics of the blog. Don’t spend too much time mulling over the different choices. You can always change the theme later on.
Next you can choose your WordPress plan. For most beginners, the Beginner plan is adequate. The Premium plan offers more storage and flexibility, but better services are offered from shared hosting services like webhostingpad.com or bluehost.com. These services will install WordPress on their sites for free.
After selecting a plan, you will be sent to a simplified dashboard where you can add a post or page.
You can access a more robust dashboard using the button labeled WP Admin.
This dashboard is more like the one you would see if you were using WordPress on a shared hosting service.
One note: When you log into WordPress through the WordPress.com, you will be taken to an entry page for WordPress. To get to your blog, select the My Sites button in the upper left corner of the screen.
Try experimenting with a post. Your first post does not need to be anything spectacular. But as you type, think about how you might use this in your classroom. What advantages does a blog have? Who is your audience? How might your students use a blog in the classroom?
To see what is possible in a blog, check out Part 2 of this post.