Showing posts with label edublogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label edublogging. Show all posts

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Problem With the Blogger Navbar - Fix It

The ease of use and integration with Google accounts, makes Blogger a very popular choice for teachers who are starting their first classroom blogs. But it's not without its faults in an education setting. The navigation bar that appears by default at the top of Blogger blogs can be useful for searching the content of your blog, but that "next blog" link can potentially lead your students to blogs containing content that is not appropriate for school. Removing that navigation bar (navbar) is actually a fairly simple task that anyone can do. I've outlined, with images (click to view full size), the process for you.

Disclaimer: Before you go and remove the navbar, keep in mind that some people consider removing the navigation bar to be a violation of the Blogger terms of service. That said, it's a gray area as many bloggers have removed the navbar and continue to use Blogger. You can read the TOS and make the decision for yourself.

Step One:
In your Blogger account select the "layout" tab then click the "edit html" link. If you're using a standard Blogger template you probably don't have to worry about downloading a copy of your current template, but it's not a bad idea to do it anyway. Downloading a copy of your template gives you an offline back-up in case you make a horrible mistake editing the html. If that happens just upload your back-up template and you're back in business.

Step Two:
Copy the following code and paste it directly below the "Blogger Template Style" section in the html. (see the screen capture to locate the proper placement)
#navbar-iframe {
display: none !important;


Step Three:
Preview the template to make sure you blog displays correctly without the navbar. If it does, click save and you're done.

Last week Wesley Fryer wrote about the importance of enabling comment moderation on student blogs. In that post he showed readers how to enable comment moderation on Blogger blogs. This post was inspired by Wesley's post.

Much of what I've learned about customizing Blogger templates has come from Blogger Buster.

Something a lot of Blogger users aren't aware of is that for just $10/year you can have your own custom domain for your blog. For that $10 not only do you get to drop the .blogspot on your url you get access to all of the Google Apps like custom branded email. You can learn more about that option in this video created by Google.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How I Pick Blog Topics

This post is in part a follow-up to some of things I discussed on the Seedlings podcast a couple of weeks ago and is in part a response to a common email question. I understand that because of the frequency with which I post it might appear that I blog about everything I see. In fact, I blog about less than a quarter of the "educational resources" that I see in a given day. How I choose what to blog about is the purpose of this post. Back in My Seven Edublogging Secrets I shared the importance of focusing your blog's content, consider this a follow-up to that blog post.

The first question I ask myself before writing about a new website or service is, "does this have real relevance to a classroom and is it universally accessibly?" There are a lot of neat things that I see every day, but a lot of them don't have relevance to education. Similarly, until last week, I've refrained from writing about iPhone and Android apps because they're not as universally accessible as a purely web-based service.

The second question I ask is, "can the average teacher access this in five minutes?" If the answer is "no," I probably won't write about it. If something isn't easily accessible to a teacher, he or she isn't likely to spend 30 frustrating minutes trying to figure it out. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general my first concern is accessibility.

Another question I ask myself is, "can students access this quickly and is the advertising classroom-safe?" In general, I believe that if a teacher can access a service quickly, students will be able to as well. Questionable advertising has kept a lot websites off of Free Technology for Teachers. If the advertising I see is inappropriate or intrusive, I don't blog about that site.

In a typical week I'll receive between 35 and 50 email pitches from public relations people. In almost every case those emails are unsolicited and I don't respond to them. Occasionally, I get an email that actually informs me of a free resource that's worth sharing with you, but that is the exception to the rule. Why? Because there are only a couple of PR people that have actually approached me politely and have taken the time to understand that this blog is about free things teachers can use. A lot of the email pitches I get are for paid services and the sender is hoping I'll make an exception. For the record, the only paid products I've ever endorsed are a few books, my netbook, and Common Craft videos. None of those people pitched me.

Finally, I see a lot of things each week on Twitter and on great blogs like Larry Ferlazzo's, Kelly Tenkely's, and Kevin Jarrett's. If I see something on Twitter that has already been reTweeted hundreds of times, in a lot of cases I'll simply reTweet it myself. Things that I see on other's blogs I'll often just Tweet about. Sometimes I blog about those things later, but I generally think that there is so much great stuff on the web that I don't need to repeat what someone else in the niche has already said that day.

What is your criteria for choosing blog topics?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Finding Your Voice In the Edublogger Community

In this video I explain the three roles that people can play in the edublogging community. A lot of new bloggers struggle to find a voice in the edublogging community. If you can identify a voice or role for yourself in the edublogging community, you should be able to better focus the diretion of your blogging efforts.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blogging Isn't About the Number of Readers

Seth Godin is one of the leading authorities on social media, marketing, and organizational leadership. In this video he and Tom Peters are talking to an audience of business people about the benefits of blogging. Early in the video Godin notes that blogging is not about the number of readers, but about the other benefits gained by blogging. That is a great point for all bloggers, but especially new bloggers to remember. Focus on consistently (it doesn't have to be every day, some of my favorite bloggers write only twice a week) producing quality content that you find beneficial to yourself and a small group of peers or colleagues and eventually your audience will grow. I started this blog for the purpose of keeping a record of things that I found interesting and that my colleagues could use too. Nearly two years later I have thousands of colleagues (you) reading this blog. If you're just starting out in the Edublogging community, remember it's about writing for you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reflections on EduBloggerCon - Part II

Yesterday, I posted some of my preliminary reflections on EduBloggerCon 2009. Those reflections were posted just before I went to an outstanding conversation session hosted by Jeff Utecht. The conversation was started with the questions "Is blogging dead or dying?" and "Where does Twitter fit in?" The conversation included topics such as real-time search (my two cent contribution), Jeff's idea that Twitter makes the life-cycle of a conversation shorter, how to get people started and interested in blogging/ Twitter/ FriendFeed. I believe it was Scott McLeod who brought the conversation back to the "trenches" so to speak when he said something to the effect of "for most educators, posting on the web is still a new thing." He put this comment in the context of his Castle book club in which he has members who are reluctant to post a comment to an online group for which they signed up.

Scott's point reminded us all that it is easy to get caught up in the pageviews, retweets, and other statistics of blogging, but there is still a huge population of people that doesn't know what is going on in the world of educational technology. The challenge then is to answer the question, "how do we get teachers interested in staying current in best practice technology integration?" My simple answer to this to show teachers some specific tools that can help them engage students in their classrooms. And when they ask, "how do you find all this?" (and they always do ask me) show a couple of blogs like Larry Ferlazzo's and introduce them to RSS readers.

Jeff Utecht (on left) and David Warlick during the conversation about the future of edublogging.

A couple of people have asked me where I'm posting notes and links from NECC 2009. I set up a page for my notes and links from this trip. You can find that Drop here. I have also set up a Friend Feed group for conversations about NECC 09. You can find and join that group here.