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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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