This semester for my undergraduate “Computers in the Classroom” course I’ve setup a class blog on the website 21classes. Since the free version is limited to just 10 students, and I have 24 in my section, I went ahead and paid the $9 per month for the upgraded version. I like how the site is setup in two layers, with student blogs as the second layer.

BlogPortal setup on 21classes

A blog platform like 21classes is good because it allows for comment moderation for ALL the “child blogs” created on your site. This is also true of other class blogging platforms like KidBlog and Class Blogmeister.

Key setting: all comments require teacher approval

Things went well today overall except for my students who registered for the site with a Yahoo email address. For some reason, they never could receive the confirmation email 21classes sent. When I initially configured the blog, I opted to require that students click the confirmation link 21classes sent them after registering to activate their account. This is a good idea, to insure students enter their email address correctly. Our problem today, however, was that student accounts were BLOCKED and remained blocked when they could not receive the confirmation email. I could not figure out how to unblock their accounts in the administrator dashboard for my site. I tried manually blocking and unblocking the accounts created with Yahoo emails, but that did not work. This was frustrating, and we still don’t have a solution although the 21classes tech support email I received indicated they would have this fixed by tomorrow morning. We’ll see.

Frustrating account blocked message

I read some negative reviews of the 21classes site on Classroom 2.0 yesterday, but was heartened by Kiwi educator Erin Freeman’s positive reports of her experiences with the site (shared via Twitter) with her class blog last year. I do like many of the features 21classes purports to offer, but certainly we need to resolve basic issues like account activation soon.

I created my own “teacher blog” on our site to publish audio lecturecasts of our classes, as I did today. Unlike last semester, when I published weekly video lecturecasts of my “Technology 4 Teachers” classes at UCO on Blip.tv, this semester it’s not going to be practical for me to haul and setup the equipment I need twice per week to create videos of lectures. Audio recordings, however, are much easier to manage, and for now I’m using a new, free account on drop.io to upload and share these recordings. To get the file size down, I compressed the mp3 audio to 16 kbps mono using the free program Switch. That got my 1 hour and 20 minute class recording down below 10 MB in size. Today, in addition to reviewing the syllabus, we discussed digital footprints and classroom blogging.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

If you have any suggestions for how to remedy the “account blocked” messages on 21classes I’d love to hear them. Hopefully we can get this resolved by tomorrow!

Do you have a favorite class blogging platform to use with students, which allows for comment moderation, besides KidBlog, Class Blogmeister, or 21classes?

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4 Responses to Day 1 experiences with a class blog on 21classes

  1. Lynn Matthews says:

    I have been using 21publish instead of 21classes because it doesn’t limit you to 10 “student” accounts but has a nearly identical interface (and is still free). My high school students have found it easy to use and we have only had one or two glitches with nearly 100 student accounts. I love how the blogroll appears in the sidebar so students can easily access and comment on each others blog postings. One of my favorites!

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    That’s a great tip, Lynn! Thanks for sharing. How did you learn about 21publish initially? Is your site public so I could check it out?

  3. Lynn Matthews says:

    Wes – 21classes didn’t exist when I initially began blogging with classes (over 8 years ago) and I found 21publish on a fluke search. It was shortly after I began using 21publish that they began offering 21classes – I tried using 21classes but they were so similar and had the costs and limitations attached that I have continued to use 21publish instead =)

    Unfortunately, our community of blogs are private – you do have to pay to have the option of making them public, but that is the trade off. If you like 21classes though…pretty sure you will be a fan of 21publish as well.

  4. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks for that background, Lynn. Interesting 21publish keeps things private without paying… it’s good to know it’s an available blogging platform option. Curby Alexander mentioned it to me last week when we were discussing blog options… I’m happy with it so far. I’ll check out 21publish as well, and let others know about it when we discuss publishing platform options.

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