I got an e-mail from a teacher who had just done a Weblog training using Blogger, and the issue of the “Next Blog” button in the top right corner came up, as in what if students click through to some inappropriate site? Oy. If you haven’t tried this of late, you need to. Start here at a test site I put up a couple of months ago and click through to the 10 random “Next Blog” sites that come up. Here’s what I got:
#1. A page full of the same candlemaking link intended only to raise the Google ranking of the link owner.
#2. Another one, this time related to child support.
#3. Another one for sun screen protection.
#4. A site filled with picture of nurse porn.
#5. A personal blog written in Portugese (I think.)
#6. A link site for debt consolidation.
#7. A student blog (believe it or not!)
#8. A blog on quantum algorithms.
#9. A link site for golden retreiver pictures (???)
#10. A political blog.
So, six of the ten sites were either spam or porn. I’m sure your mileage may vary, but the point is pretty clear. Just the chance that a student might click through to a pornography site is enough to scratch Blogger from the list of blogging options. So, what to do? Here are a few options:
I’m sure there are others.
The bigger point, however, is that we need to continue to try to convince schools to teach students how to deal with the crud that they are going to land on whether they hit it from a Blogger site or not.
Raj Boora says
I noticed that as well – more often than not there is more porn than anything else. I tried to use the technorati search but that didn’t help. It would be cool if there was a switch to turn just that button off.
Alfred Thompson says
What about using MSN Spaces http://spaces.msn.com It is free and while there is an option to include recently updated spaces on the space it is easy to remove.
I wonder if Blogger might be open to supporting the kinds of environments you want. I would drop them an email and ask if it would be possible to create a sort of blogring rather than linking to random blogs from that bar. In the past Blogger has shown considerable itnerested in educational uses of blogging, and it wouldn’t hurt to ask if there was a way to limit the range of those links. Even if they limited them not to your own student blogs, but to all blogs ranked as “educational”.
Though the best solution for classroom blogs is to get a system like wordpress or livejournal installed locally, so the entire range of blogs is entirely out of your own school. Or district. Livejournal software is particularly well-suited to creating communities of users.
Dean R Shareski says
Since blogger is a great place to begin, I’ve been working with teachers and students and set up a number of their blogs with blogger. We’ve also use the <noembed> code to disable the next blog bar however this bar still exists on archived pages and separate post pages. I’m hoping we are able to use either WordPress or MultiUser WordPress or P-log next year. We have the server space it’s just a matter of installation and testing.
EFL Geek says
There are other free blogging services such as motime, blogsome or blog-city that will fit the bill. I’m just surprised by the number of people who use and like blogger and livejournal. Personally I find the look of blogger/livejournal blogs to be too generic and boring and the user interface for blogger has a lot to be desired. I can’t say anything for livejournal as I have never seen the backend.
Robert Kennedy says
I agree. Teaching kids how to evaluate search results is very important. I blogged on that theme last week. http://privateschool.about.com/b/a/2005_06_08.htm
But first we have to convince teachers that search strings are something they need to teach their students. Perhaps if teachers were more subject/research driven rather than teaching to the test we might get somewhere. I’m not holding my breath.
The ‘next blog’ button is part of the blogger search toolbar which comprises the advertising on free blogspot blogs, so I doubt if it can be done away with easily and within the TOC.
I’ve only just very recently started out with introducing blogs into the classroom and not come across the problem yet, while the children are very engaged with their writing. But what one of the teachers explains to the children generally, especially when doing internet searches – ( ages 8-11 ) goes a bit like this.
“The Internet contains all sorts of information and material, much of which is very useful, but there are also some things on it which aren’t suitable for children. From time to time when we are looking for sites on the web or clicking on the links within a website, we might land by accident on a site which is not at all suitable for children. If that happens, what you should do is to press the back button straight away – that’s the left pointing arrow on your button bar at the top of the page, and that will take you back away from the site.”
Steve Shu says
Just as food for thought since not that many people are familiar with 21Publish, a platform geared towards mutli-user blogging and group blogging as opposed to individual blogs. Below I’ve listed two examples of use of 21Publish school communities. You may wish to contact the administrators to see how they like the setup. 21Publish currently has ad-free offering that includes 100 user blogs as part of the community for $19.90/per month. Hosted set-up, no messing with technology. You can get a portal that includes 100 user blogs within the community for free (includes ads).
Disclosure: I am employed by 21Publish.
Anyway here are some sites within the education space (note that both of these have ads):
The second one is kind of an interesting writing portal.
May also want to contact another educator that is just trying things out to see if he likes.
An ad-free environment may be only one of your concerns. If you have others, please feel free to contact me at sshu at 21publish.com. I have a special interest in the non-profit, university, and education spaces.