Q: I’m thinking of creating a class blog. Do you have any suggestions for reliable and secure blogging sites? What are your recommendations for how to best use a class blog?

A: A secure class blog is a tremendous tool for fostering discussion and creating community. It allows you to literally expand your class outside of the confines of the room you meet in. You could easily create a blog using any of the numerous blogging sites directly, but if you want to improve security and have some tools that are appropriate for teaching environments, I’d go with Kidblogs. If your school is like mine and uses Google Apps, then you can use your Google Apps account, saving everyone involved the hassle of creating a new login and password. Another great feature is the price: It’s free!

Kidblogs is powered by WordPress, so if you’ve ever used that software, the control interface will be familiar. You can create your class blog and then give your students their own blog, which is linked back to the class blog.

Reflection is the key to learning, so if you like to assign journal entries, this is a great way for each student to complete the assignment and share it instantly.

Students can also post videos of their dance work and then open up those videos to comments. Since the teacher can moderate these online discussions, you can make sure the feedback is appropriate and have a virtual composition class entirely online. All content is private by default, and only the teacher and students can see it. You can choose to make some parts public, though, and even give parents guest access. As a teacher, I’d recommend you set up some parameters for yourself. Since you can access and respond at any time, you could easily allow your work to take over your private life.

Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends School in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty of the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.

Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld

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