What is Multisite Blogging?
Most people?s introduction to blogging is via one of the free blog platforms such as WordPress.com or Blogger. They also may have tried one of the platforms built with WordPress such as Primaryblogger, Edublogs or Kidblogs. These platforms enable you to create as many blogs as you want, but there are no links between them. However, some schools develop their blogging further by investing in WordPress Multisite platform such as that provided by Creative Blogs. Multisites allows schools to create as many blogs as they want to use on their own domain. But, given that signing up for a WordPress blog is free, why do so many schools actually spend money on a blog platform?
What is WordPress Multisites?
WordPress Multisites is an extension of the open source blog platform, WordPress.org. It allows a school to have their own domain and to create an unlimited number of blogs on that domain. For example, the domain might be called myprimaryschool.net. The year 6 class then becomes year6.myprimaryschool.net, and is a sub-domain of the original domain. The only limitations on the number of blogs you can create is the size of your server space.
WordPress Multisites provides a management layer to administer all these blogs so, at the end of the school year, for example, it is simple to transfer user logins from blog to blog, create new blogs and archive old blogs etc. The potential time saved in managing blogs on one domain compared to managing a set of free class blogs with no link between them often outweighs the cost of the platform on its own without considering all the other benefits.
WordPress is an open source platform which means that anyone can download and install it on a web server. 15% of the world?s websites are now built with WordPress. This has multiple benefits for the client. Your investment is protected as it is not a proprietary platform and is simple to transfer your entire site to a different WordPress host if you want. Our oldest customer is about to renew their site for the 9th consecutive year. How many different web platforms has your school gone through in that time?
Because WordPress has a plugin architecture people can develop software to change the way it works. These programs are called plugins. Plugins can range from anti-spam filters to prevent comment spam to, graph drawing plugins, social plugins and many more integration options which are not available to users of standard blog platforms.
What do Creative Blogs do with WordPress Multisites?
Creative blogs have built close to 200 WordPress Multisite platforms for schools in Britain and Europe. We do all the technical hosting and support so the user simply blogs. For each school we install WordPress Multisites on their own domain on one of our dedicated servers. In addition to the the basic WordPress installation we provide:
- Over 130 themes for schools to choose from when creating new blogs;
- A set of plugins that simplifies the menus for children and provides a more secure and e-safe environment in which to work; anti-spam functionality; safe image searching; user management tools and much more;
- Back up your complete domain every night;
- Constant malware and hack threat monitoring;
- A set of training tutorials on how to use WordPress;
- Telephone, email and Twitter support;
- Inset, support, consultancy and advice from the most experienced blogging teachers in the UK. We understand the issues and pedagogy;
In addition we provide a custom front end to your site that delivers a professional looking and easy to navigate design so that visitors can quickly and simply find the particular blog or content that they wish to look at. Some of our designs can be seen on our website where there is also a community map linking to all our bloggers.
What do schools do with their WordPress Multisites Platform?
Schools blog for lots of different reasons including:
- Providing authentic audience and purpose for writing – many of our clients see blogging as a key strategy in their attempts to raise standards in literacy;
- Providing a means of network and communicating with a wider community;
- Developing e-safety and internet skills in an authentic yet e-safe web environment;
- Using private blogs as learning journals in the early years;
- Developing a platform for pupil voice to be heard;
- Providing opportunities for collaboration with other schools and external experts;
- Providing opportunities for extended writing and project work;
- Sharing work with their community;
- Celebrating achievement and success.
They also often use blogs for specific projects such as community engagement (e.g. a community cookbook); residentials; cross school projects such as art week, science week, holy week etc; digital leaders; PTA blogs and many more. The ease with which a new blog can be created and users added make this a simple task.
Schools using our platform have won multiple awards for Impact and Innovation in the curriculum, including awards for engaging parents, innovation in the early years, impact on standards in writing etc. Many report rapidly accelerating progress in literacy; fundamental shifts in attitudes towards learning; increasing engagement and improvements in behaviour.
?Blogging has been the single biggest impacting resource I have used in 11 years of teaching ? transforming pupil engagement!?
David Mitchell (@deputymitchell)
?How is this achieved?
In classes where blogging is at the heart of what they do:
- Children have their own logins and write at home and at school;
- Teachers spend time modelling peer review and critical commenting;
- Teachers and children build audience by networking with other school bloggers through comments and projects such as Quadblogging and the 100 Word Challenge.
Blogging and e-safety – John Sutton, Creative Blogs Ltd, 2013
Educational Blogging and the effects on pupil?s writing – CfBT Education Trust Research Project, M. Barrs & S. Horrocks, 2014
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