One Week Later

Is it really a week since I last posted? It appears so. One whole week of stuff to tell you, some of it quite interesting, but sadly, you’re getting the edited low lights. Unlucky you.

(This is the point where good manners dictate that I say stop reading, look away now, go and read something interesting somewhere else.

Still here? You’re brilliant you know. I do appreciate it.)

Anyhoo, I’m a little busy at the moment, partly with some work related stuff that I can’t talk about, partly with some major blog moving, which is not proving to be fun.

Three-Legged-Cat is staying put (I think), but what’s happening about comments is anybody’s guess to be honest. However I absolutely dare not leave my school blogs where they are. I loved the Blogger/Haloscan combo, but alas, we are splitting up.

Blogger scores for:

  • No ads, unless you want them. (Ads can be a big problem for school.)
  • A nice simple interface that kids can understand. I really like the simplicity of this Minima template.
  • Being easy to get my head round – basically I just use the templates provided, with the odd html code tweak here and there in the actual posts. Easy. Even I (the ungeek who still uses Frontpage as her main web authoring tool) can do it.
  • Embedding videos, photos, slide shows is a piece of cake. Anyone can cut and paste. Even ungeeks like me.
  • But I’m not a fan of Blogger’s comments. I just wanted a box to write in, with a space for a name. I didn’t want a choice of ways to log in, not for my students.

    I got simplicity with Haloscan. Plus I liked the fact that I could tweak it so my students didn’t leave their homepage URLs. I don’t really want kids posting links to their Bebo pages thank you very much. I have to check any links from my blogs. That would mean going into *their* space. I don’t do that, I have my space over here to which students aren’t invited, I keep out of their space.

    Basically Haloscan ticked all the boxes for comments. Plus if I cheated and used the same account on all my class blogs it was cheap for an ad free version.

    I know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so I’m not complaining, but Haloscan’s imminent demise leaves me with a problem. Stick with Blogger’s lovely easy to use format and use their not-particularly-kid-friendly comments? Go with another commenting platform and risk a repeat performance of this later? Switch blog hosts? One thing I won’t be doing is staying put. I can’t risk ‘default’ settings for comments on my school blogs when they get switched over to JS-KIT comments, especially when the nature of what those settings are remains a mystery to me. I have to take responsibility for everything that’s on there, I dare not risk a single unmoderated comment getting through. The owner of JS-KIT seems nice, seems to want to be helpful, so I might just take a chance with this blog, but not for school.

    I nearly went to Edublogs, but it turns out that they aren’t as ad-free and student-friendly as my initial experience of their site suggested. In fact their ads are somewhat invidious. So I won’t be touching them with someone else’s bargepole.

    There will be blogs available on my school’s learning platform. But it isn’t quite all systems go yet. And I am. Plus I need to import what’s already online.

    There is a simple obvious answer to all this isn’t there? Self-hosted WordPress. Easy.

    Except my current webhost is running versions of SQL etc that are so old the Science Museum is thinking of putting them on display. So there’s some sorting out to do there as well. Gah.

    So the upshot of all this is that it’s temporary accommodation at WordPress.com for me and running the risk of a few adverts while I’m there. At least they seem to be rare creatures and not as invasive as the Edublog versions. (I know I can pay to be ad-free on WordPress.com, but I run several low-traffic student blogs – one per class. It would cost a fortune.)

    I’m slowly working out how the blooming heck I can integrate media like Vimeo videos and Slideshare presentations and generally climbing that WordPress learning curve. Which I’ll be doing again just as soon as I’m ready for ad-free self hosting.

    All good clean fun.

    Anyway, I shall definitely be in the market for someone affordable (I know I’ll have to pay a fair rate, but my school site is ad free and funded by me, so I can’t afford megabucks) to design a nice simple WordPress theme for me.

    Or for a book called something like ‘How to Design a WordPress Theme That Looks Rather Like Blogger’s Minima: An Easy Step By Step Guide For Those That Don’t Have A Clue What They Are Doing’

    Any recommendations?

    10 comments to One Week Later

    • I had not noticed that Haloscan is about to disappear. I also use it for rashbre central and another blog.

      My photo blog rashbre snapped is on wordpress though and it was easy to set up.

      I let them host it and use their commenting system and a few of the plug ins for spam suppression and similar.

      The editing is easy too because it has both a WordPress version and also a toggle into native HTML – which I use if I’m adding pictures or similar.

      rashbre snapped is here, in case you want to check out the formatting.

    • Hi there,

      If you bear with us for a while, we’ll do the best thing possible at the moment to make transition from Haloscan to JS-Kit smooth. Haloscan is not about to die, is about to be upgraded. If you need a certain feature in Haloscan that you are not sure JS-Kit is going to support, please contact me directly. I’ll be happy to clarify.

      CTO JS-Kit
      vlm@js-kit.com

    • hi..
      nice blog…
      im from indonesia…
      šŸ˜€
      nice to meet you..

    • Yorkshire Pudding

      hi..
      nice blog…
      im from Banner Cross
      šŸ˜€
      nice to meet you..
      But your questions are too damned technical for me. My recommendation is pens and paper for your studentts and forget all this distracting technology.

    • I see you can’t help yourself YP, writing Banner Cross in all its capitalised glory.

      Good for you šŸ˜‰

    • I had an interesting and heated discussion with the Edublogs creator at BETT this year. His main interest seemed to be more about making money than using blogging positively. I didn’t like him at all.

      I can’t beleive in this day and age that teachers are still having to use their own money to set up ‘good’ things. 25 years ago when I started, yes, but, in this day and age… most teachers I know get an allowance of around Ā£2-300 a year for out-of-pocket expenses (supported by receipts, obviously). Time to campaign at school for something similar?

    • Following on from Blue Witch’s comments, I was at a recent London bloggers meeting as a novice and it was interesting there how people split into the ‘monetization’ camp (I spell with a Zee on purpose) and the ‘whatever’ people.

      I’ve never really thought about ‘making money’ from this activity, but there seem to be a lot of folk that want to.

    • ..And to clarify – I don’t begrudge the funding of ‘good things’ from the public purse at all. Its all about doing the right thing.

    • I don’t have a problem with advertising per se, I can see that small organisations/individuals need to cover their costs somehow – and if a service doesn’t charge the user, the money has to come from somewhere.

      The trouble with monetizing is the loss of control. If I let adverts appear on my school sites (or this one come to that), then there’s a lot of potential problems. How do I ensure that the ads are appropriate for my audience of kids? I can’t. And that’s neatly sidestepping the issue of whether I should be advertising to kids at all. (Answer: No, I don’t think I should.)

      I don’t promote my school sites, other than to my own students, so cost hasn’t been a major factor so far. But as I’m adding more interactive stuff, traffic is building up, slowly but steadily. I want to keep it free to use, but I can see that there may come a time when some sort of sponsorship/advertising may be necessary.

      I’ve never asked my school for help with funding this, because as things are, the site is funded by me and owned by me. Of course, I don’t know if they would have agreed to fund it anyway. When I moved school, I left my previous school a copy of everything, but the site moved with me. If I had asked for funding, then that could have caused some issues.

    • Oh and Blue Witch’s comment made me smile. A colleague and I were saying the other day that this kind of allowance would be marvellous.

      I can claim back expenses and I have done so, but I have to get agreement from whoever holds the relevant budget first.

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