For my session at this year’s CILT Primary Languages Show, No Brainer blogging for Beginners, I had two main objectives. Firstly, to show just how easy it is nowadays to create multimedia content and publish it on a class blog and secondly, to highlight the learning benefits of giving pupils a real audience for their work. To prove my point, I showcased the free blogging platform Posterous and with help from the obliging audience set up a blog and uploaded files there and then on to it.
Posterous is a simple service which allows you to update your blog via email. The subject line is the title of your post and the body text is the post itself. Audio and video attachments embed automatically with their own players, PDF, PowerPoint and Word files are displayed as Scribd documents and if you send a set of images in a zipped folder, they will appear as a slideshow. Everything is arranged for you and files can be downloaded in their original formats if required once they are on the blog. The process is so easy that basically, if you can email, you can blog!
To get the ball rolling, I asked one of the delegates to send an email to [email protected] with an example text about the PLS. While waiting for the confirmation message to arrive in my inbox, I shot a short video clip on my Flip Video HD camera with Carole Nicholl, transferred the movie file to my computer and attached it to the same email address. As this was attaching, Huguette Hopkinson kindly agreed to be recorded using Audacity and a USB microphone describing the weather. Next, I showed how to levelate the file to balance the audio levels and export as mp3 by which point, the video had successfully attached and the confirmation email had appeared. Please note you can attach up to 100MB per email and the upload limit per blog is 1GB.
I opened the message and clicked Click to view your new post which took us to the newly created blog and the inaugural post written by Andrew which had been beautifully formatted for us. The next step was to click the link Save your Site in the bottom right of the screen and choose a password and username. The username is the site’s address and therefore needs careful consideration. That done, I clicked Start Posting!, entered my password and clicked Submit to login to the Manage section of the blog.
Before showing the audience how to enable moderation and password protect the blog, I wanted to check the video file had uploaded by clicking on the My Posterous link in Manage and show how it could be downloaded if required. I then returned to my email account, uploaded the audio file I’d just produced and sent it to [email protected] as before.
Configuring the blog
Now it was time to look in detail at how to configure the blog to make it an appropriate environment for pupil use. To do this, I clicked on the People tab in the Manage section and described how to add pupils as contributors by clicking the green Add People button, block pasting in their school email addresses in the box provided and selecting Contributors from the dropdown menu marked as Subscribers. By adding pupils as contributors means that they can send in their homework via email, but can’t change anyone else’s or any of the blog’s settings. It also means that contributors are sent an email notification either for each new posting instantly or as a daily digest which could be a great prompt for those who still needed to submit theirs!
Alternatively, you could publish pupils’ work yourself and not add anyone as a contributor. If a pupil is added as a Contributor, they receive an email telling them what email they need to use to submit work e.g. [email protected] in this example. They are also told the password if the blog is password protected. When they publish a post they need to put their name in the post title or body text to identify who they are as their name won’t appear otherwise. They could put their first name plus the first initial of their second name or use a an alias where the teacher has a spreadsheet with pupils’ real names plus their nicknames so he or she can easily identify contributors.
Next I clicked on Settings and ran through the different options there. First, I clicked on Edit next to NAME YOUR SITE and changed the suggested name of Joe’s Posterous to Our Primary Languages Blog. I also added a subheading on how the blog should be used underneath and left the blog address the same as I didn’t want the links I had already made to no longer work. Finally I pressed Save Settings and Settings again
Next we dealt with whether to make the blog public or password-protect it and I showed how to do the latter by ticking a box and adding a password.
Then I moved on to explaining how to choose a theme from the templates on offer. To do that, I clicked Edit Theme and showed all the example templates by clicking See more, chose Helvetica and clicked Save, I’m done! To apply the changes, I clicked OK and to check it had worked, I clicked the My Posterous link. To my delight, Carol’s video was now properly embedded and we could play it, along with Huguette’s audio!
At this point, I emphasised the ease in which I had published multimedia content on to the blog and the potential excitement the pupils would have by seeing their work available so soon after it was completed.
After that, I went through the important issue of dealing with comments and choosing the best option for your own situation. I described the different possible scenarios, moderating comments, password protecting the blog etc and left it up to delegates to decide what would work best for them.
If you choose only logged in users can comment then that means the administrator not the pupils can leave a comment which could be useful if the teacher wants to use commenting as a way of marking. If you select anyone can comment you would either need to tick the Moderate comments box or password-protect the site to avoid the potential of any inappropriate comments going public. You could set a homework where pupils have to comment on each other’s work and enable moderation during this time to encourage peer assessment using the formula of two stars and a wish.
When someone does leave a comment, they must write a name in the form provided, but they don’t have to put an email address. All contributors will then be notified that a comment has been left. If moderation is turned on, the administrator will be informed via email that a comment has been left and then he or she can log in, click the Moderate now link and select either Reject all, Approve all, Reject or Approve.
To moderate posts, select Anyone can post, I will moderate instead of Contributors can post from the dropdown menu and click Save Settings. Next send an email to [email protected] as in this example. Login and in Manage, click Edit next to your post. If you are happy with the contents and don’t need to edit anything, click the Update button bottom right which will publish the post to your blog.
Essentially, it is up to the administrator to decide whether to make pupils contributors in which case their posts are not moderated or to allow anyone to post and to moderate
If you are running many blogs at the same time, moderation could be very time-consuming and you would always be able to edit or delete any post which was published as the administrator.
Having covered the delicate issue of moderating comments and posts, I showed the audience how they could allow their pupils to download the published resources if they wanted by clicking on the dropdown menu and how to select the relevant time zone too.
Finally, I added a profile picture to the blog by clicking the Edit button next to Site Profile in Settings and clicked the Enable Site Profile button. I browsed for an image which could be your school logo for example, selected it and clicked Open. I then clicked Save Settings as before.
With all the necessary changes made, it was then just a question of adding more content and so I took some photos, put them in a zipped folder and posted them as an attachment so they would appear as a slideshow. While the images were uploading, I showed how easy it was to embed a Word document into the blog and suggested how teachers could use Posterous as a way of helping pupils revise for homework tasks with embedded audio and text support.
Unfortunately the images did not upload in time, but if they had have done, I would have hovered over the Posterous link in the top right of the screen and clicked Slideshow which would have shown off the images nicely. Nevermind. Not bad for 55 minutes work ;-)
Before the session ended, I evangelised about the inspirational work of MFL teacher Jen Turner who has been using Posterous as a class blogging tool by adding all her pupils at Stowmarket High School in Suffolk as contributors. This means that they have been able to email in their multimedia homework including video clips and audio files created on their mobile phones and have everything published all in the same place.
Jen has produced a wonderful guide which explains how she has created a password-protected blog for each year group (9-13) and language (French or German) and a public departmental ‘mother blog’ which links them all together all from the same account.
Pupils can publish work by using their school email address and access the blog they have been assigned to with the same generic password. That means no-one can publish anything unless they have been registered by Jen nor look at a blog without the password. She however, as the administrator can post to multiple blogs at the same time by adding different email addresses in her message.
As Posterous supports a variety of file types and embeds them automatically, it is simple for pupils to submit multimedia work from whichever mobile device they have. This could include amr, m4a or 3gp files which normally would need to be converted first. Have a look at this post Posterousing the Learner Voice by James Clay which suggests how Posterous can be used to facilitate Pupil Voice.
Anyone who has their email registered as a contributor will be notified when someone posts on their blog and will be able to see what they have written. This could be a good reminder for those who haven’t handed in their own work and a good model for them to adapt. If a pupil copies another pupil’s work, it is easy to see who published theirs first by looking at the order they appear on the blog.
Setting and receiving homework
Jen sets homework via her different blogs now which has dramatically saved on departmental photocopying and is helpful if a pupil is absent when it was set. They need to login in of course to find out what the homework is and this obliges them to look at the blog. Other benefits are that parents can see the class’ work and feel more involved in their child’s learning. They can also check their child has done the homework set. If pupils want to have a hard copy of their work they can print it off and stick it in their books or not use the blog at all and hand in their exercise book instead if they prefer.
High School Technology Coordinator Mark Heil from Yongsan International School of Seoul has a produced two instructional YouTube clips for his students telling them how they need to set up their individual Posterous blogs for submitting homework.
Private and draft posts
As the administrator, it is also possible to send a private or draft post to your blog without having to notify contributors. To do this, I'd email [email protected] or [email protected] and I would notice a padlock icon or the word draft next to my post in the Manage screen. Emailing private or draft posts is a useful way of collecting ideas you can finish off later on your computer.
The difference between a draft post and a private post is that the latter can still be accessed on a public or password-protected blog via a secret URL, but will not appear in the main blog's listings unless it is published.
Organising content and tagging
Notifications do not contain the email address of the contributor and therefore pupils need to sign their work with their name/username and form so the teacher can easily identify who they are. They can also use tags in the subject line e.g. exampletitle ((tag: nameofpupil)) which will then appear on the right of the blog under Tags as nameofpupil (1). This means anyone who has access to the blog can see immediately how many contributions each person has made. Contributors can add multiple tags, by using commas e.g. exampletitle ((tag: Yr9Gr, nameofpupil, hw, date)). By clicking on a tag, all the posts tagged with that keyword will appear. Tags are a useful way of organising the content on a blog and make it easier to find older posts. The administrator can also change or edit the tags for each post by logging into the Posterous site and clicking Edit next to each post.
Jen is planning to create a password-protected blog for each of her language classes next year and this should make it easier to organise content and make them more focussed. Like this year, links for these blogs will be available as separate pages on the mother blog which will also contain MFL related news and revision tips. To add a page to a Posterous blog, click the Pages tab in the Manage screen and click the Page button next to Navigation. Add your content including hyperlinks as necessary and click Save when you’re done.
- Have a look at the excellent help section or these How do I tutorials if any of the things you're trying to do don't seem to work they way they should or for new ideas on how to get the most out of Posterous
- To publish a YouTube clip, Slideshare presentation, Flickr set or Google Map, put its URL in the main body of your email and this will automatically embed it into the post when you send it.
- Install the Posterous bookmarklet so you can publish images, videos and text straight from your browser
- If you are logged in and you hover over the title of a post, you’ll notice three links appear Edit, Delete and Tag which allow you to customise further or start again.
- If you have an email signature and you don’t want it to appear, finish your post with #end and Posterous will ignore any text found after that.
- Create an email newsletter
- Turn your inbox into an RSS feed
- If you create a Gmail account to post from the button in the Manage section will say Post by Gmail. Clicking on it will open your Gmail account with the email you need to send content to your Posterous blog. Fab timesaver!
- Give complete control over your site to other colleagues in your department or school by adding them as Administrators too so they can also approve comments, edit contributor's posts or invite more subscribers.
- Create an open departmental Twitter account and set up autoposting from the mother blog to it. Please note this will only work from a public blog not a private password-protected one, but would be another way of promoting content to the wider community. Login to your Twitter account. Click the Autopost tab in the Manage screen and click Add a service. Click the Twitter link and then the Link button. Give permission for Posterous to access your Twitter account and you’re done. The title of every new post will be automatically tweeted and include a link to the main post on your mother blog. Easy!
- Use post.ly to embed files in Posterous from a simple upload page and autopost the link to Twitter and other sites you've selected. Good for publishing large files which are too big to attach to an email. You can also use the Post by web option in the Manage section to do this too.
- Turn your Posterous tags into autoposted Twitter hashtags from your mother blog by following these instructions
- Edit a post containing a gallery of images and change their order by dragging and dropping them into place
- Install the Desktop TwitPic Downloader and transfer your photos to Posterous
- Install Windows Live Writer to post to Posterous as well as a range of other blogging platforms
- If you paste the full url of an mp3 file into a Posterous post it appears with the default player.
- Click on the blue HTML icon when editing a post and paste in the embed code from a variety of web 2.0 tools such as Wallwisher, VoiceThread and Voki to display them on the blog
- Add links to your sidebar (This could include an iTunes subscribe link for your podcast - see below for details)
- Add your Twitter feed to your sidebar
- Customise your theme (if you know a bit about html and CSS coding and add other widgets)
- Think about creating a group blog as an email list to facilitate collaborative work and receive regular updates from group members
- Add instructions to the mother blog on how to submit work e.g. Don’t forget to send your work to for example [email protected] and how to add tags such as ((tag: nameofpupil))
- Tell pupils to put the email they use to send their homework in their contacts / Address book
- Tell pupils they can comment on posts by replying to the notification email they receive when a new post is published (if comments are enabled).
- Use the mother blog to showcase the best examples of work from the password-protected blogs
- Use AudioBoo to send audio straight to your Posterous blog from the classroom.
- Create a blog widget or blidget to share content from the mother blog on to other sites
- Post a Create-a-graph to a Posterous blog
- Post a PollDaddy or Poll Everywhere poll
- if you have an iPhone or Android phone, try out the Posterous and PicPosterous apps which will allow you to update while out and about, but not edit posts unfortunately. :-(
To hear more reasons why users are switching to Posterous, have a listen to social media entrepreneur Phil Campbell who highlights the power and simplicity of the free tool.
Check out too Jess McCulloch's Technolanguage Live session from 15th March where Andrew Jeppesen talks about Posterous (14.29) and how he uses it to promote language learning in the classroom. Likewise, watch Wesley Fryer's session from last year's Global Education Conference (32.35)
who gives some useful tips about cross-posting and transfering content from a mobile device. He also emphasises how using Posterous is so much easier than a Virtual Learning Environment for most teachers.
Being able to publish with ease and do it regularly is a huge deal. A lot of the schools around us have signed for different content management systems. Teachers will log onto post content, but it can be really cumbersome, time-consuming and also limiting with what you can share.
To my surprise he also mentions my use of iPadio in Brittany in 2009! Way to go Wes!
This video from James O'Malley explains how.
There are two ways of subscribing to a Posterous blog via email and via RSS. If you already have a Posterous account, then you'll be asked for your email address and password, but if you don't, you shouldn't need to create one to subscribe for updates via email.
Subscribing via email
To subscribe via email, click on the link by the small Posterous icon on the right of the blog called Subscribe to this Posterous, Follow this site or Subscribe via email. You can then choose if you want to be notified instantly of the latest posts or receive a daily or weekly digest via your subscription. You can also unsubscribe by clicking on the same link and hitting the Unsubscribe button.
The email you receive when you subscribe will include the message You’re subscribed to (number of) sites. Here are the latest posts from your subscriptions. If you click on the number of sites link in this message, it will take you to a page which shows how many blogs you are subscribed to. You can view this page without being logged in, but please note this page only names public blogs not password-protected ones.
If you'd like to change how often you receive email updates or unsubscribe completely, click on the link above the first link you clicked in the email you received which allows you to do this.
To find out how many subscribers a blog has, click on the People tab in the Manage section. The number is in brackets next to the All Subscribers tab and the subscribers' email addresses are displayed in grey under their username. If necessary, you can remove a subscriber by clicking the X next to his or her name.
Another way to see all the sites you’re subscribed to is to click on the My Subscriptions link which is top right of the screen when you’re logged in or which appears when you hover over the Posterous icon on any Posterous blog. Here you can see the latest posts of all your subscriptions including those from password-protected blogs. If you click on the RSS for My Subscriptions link on the right of this page though, you will notice that your reading list only displays posts from public blogs not private ones.
You can also click on the Manage subscriptions link to change how often you are notified of new posts from all the blogs you have subscribed to. This can be set to instantly, daily, weekly or never.
Subscribing via RSS
To subscribe via RSS I would recommend using Google Reader. Click on the link Subscribe via RSS on the right hand side of your blog. Copy the feed in the address bar. Open a Google Reader account. Click the Add a subscription button and paste in the link. This will work even if the blog is password-protected although please note that the feed addresses will be different.
- http://plsblogexample.posterous.com/rss.xml (If the blog example is public)
- http://plsblogexample.posterous.com/private/cb19c3cf4783d00ba5994d59053772cc/rss.xml (if the blog is password-protected
If you subscribe to a password protected blog in Google Reader, you can read text posts, watch YouTube clips, download images, by clicking on them to make their original size, right-clicking them and clicking Save Target As... and interestingly download PDF files, PowerPoints and Word documents even if the administrator has disabled downloading in the blog’s settings. You won’t however be able to watch embedded video or audio clips unless you click the link Watch on Posterous and enter the password first.
Creating a Bundle
It is also possible to create a combined feed of all your private feeds so they all appear in the same place in Google Reader. This is known as a Bundle and to make one, click on the link Browse for stuff on the left of your Reader and click on the Create a bundle button.
On the next page that comes up, untick the box next to Add to my Shared items as you want to keep the contents of these private feeds private. Add a bundle title and brief description in the boxes provided e.g Stowmarket MFL feed of feeds.
Drag each feed you want to add to the bundle from the left sidebar into the box labelled Drop a feed or folder here to add it to the bundle. When doing so you will notice a blue frame appears around the box each time you drop in a new feed. Click Save when you’re done.
Click Add a link to your website or blog to reveal the combined feed. Click the Subscribe button and view it in Reader link.
Having created a combined feed, you can now highlight items you want to showcase on the mother blog by clicking on the greyed out star icon to the left of each entry so it goes yellow. To then view all the items you have starred, click on the Starred items link top left of your Reader. Open a starred link and click the Permalink in the message. Enter the password to access the blog and click the Submit button. Hover over the Posterous icon top right and click Login. Enter the email address and password you used to register for your Posterous account and click Login. Hover over the Posterous icon again and click the Manage link. Click on the appropriate password-protected blog on the left of the Manage section and click the Edit button on the right next to the appropriate post you want to copy.
Click the HTML icon in the editing screen. Drag over the whole code, right-click and copy it. Click the Update button which will take you to the front end of the blog containing the post you want to showcase on the mother blog.
Click the Manage link again. Select the mother blog on the left hand side and click the Post by Web button. Click the HTML button again in your new post, paste in the code and add the same title as in the original. If you don’t want to publish the post there and then click the POST OPTIONS tab and tick the box next to Mark this post as private. Click the Publish button to take you to the front end. There you will be able to see the new post even if you marked it as private as you are logged in to your account. Those who just enter the password will not unless you make the post public. To check your post is private, hover over the Posterous icon top right and click the Manage link or click the Manage Site link top left. You’ll notice a padlock icon to the left of the post signifying that it is private and therefore can only be seen by the blog administrator.
You may prefer not to combine your feeds and keep them separate or to transfer posts to the mother blog using the bookmarklet described below. Of course, there are different options on how best to set up and organise your class blogs and you need to decide which method would work most effectively for your students and you.
In this video clip, Kenley Neufeld shows how to set up a shared class podcast and how to subscribe to it by hyperlinking the word iTunes with the link itpc://mat149.posterous.com/rss.xml. Please note this only works for audio files (not video files at the time of writing).
In our example, we would insert itpc://plsblogexample.posterous.com/rss.xml as a hyperlink if our blog was public or itpc://plsblogexample.posterous.com/private/cb19c3cf4783d00ba5994d59053772cc/rss.xml if it were private.
In this clip, Tony Vincent from Learning in Hand explains how you can create an audio podcast directly from the iPod Touch and use Posterous as your host. Please note the new version of the Touch comes with an inbuilt microphone and therefore you don't need to purchase the attachable microphone Tony refers to in that case.
Tony shows three ways students can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes by:
- clicking the Advanced menu, selecting Subscribe to Podcast ... pasting in the feed and clicking OK
- dragging the RSS feed icon directly into the iTunes library
- setting up a one-click subscription as shown above
He uses the free Google service FeedBurner to include artwork plus additional information in his feed and to track the numbers of subscribers but as he says this is an optional step. Tony also refers to submitting the podcast to the iTunes store so it can be found by running a search. Again this is an extra step which would be useful for generating a wider audience.
By using the Pages feature in the Manage section, you can add a link in the sidebar of your blog describing how to subscribe to your podcast in iTunes. To do this, click the Pages tab and click on the pencil next to Sites I Like. Type in Audio Podcast and click Save. Click the Page button. Put the title Subscribe in iTunes and in the body text write something like this:
There are two ways of subscribing in iTunes to the audio podcast on this blog.The easy way is just to click on this link. (NB. the inserted hyperlink is itpc://plsblogexample.posterous.com/private/cb19c3cf4783d00ba5994d59053772cc/rss.xml)
Alternatively, launch iTunes on your computer, click the Advanced menu, select Subscribe to Podcast ... paste in the feed http://plsblogexample.posterous.com/private/cb19c3cf4783d00ba5994d59053772cc/rss.xml and click OK.
When you're done, click Save. Click on My Posterous to check the changes.
Check out too Tony's PDF iPod Touch and Posterous guide COLLECT STUDENT RECORDINGS THROUGH EMAIL & LISTEN ONLINE available on this post on his blog.
Here is Tony giving a live presentation via UStream to the Slide2Learn Conference in 2010 where he talks about podcasting on the iPod Touch with Posterous (6.45-29.28) and shows how easy it is to do it.
Adding links to your sidebar
To add some useful links to your sidebar. Click the Pages tab again and click the Add a collection button. Add a Label in the box provided such as Links and click Save. Click the Link button and type in the URL of the first link you want to add and its Label. Click Save again and repeat the process for other links. Click My Posterous to see the changes.
Adding a Twitter feed to your sidebar
To add a Twitter feed to your sidebar go to Twitter's widget creator and add the Twitter username of the feed you want to display e.g stowmarketmfl. Hit Enter to show the latest tweets. Please note this will not work if the account is protected. Click the Preferences tab and change the number of Tweets to say 7. Click the Appearance tab and click on the black box next to shell background. In the dialogue box which appears, click in the white box top right, enter the appropriate colour code and click Done. Repeat the same process for the other colour choices. Click the Dimensions tab when you've finished. For the Widget Dimensions, tick the box next to auto-width. Click the Finish & Grab Code button.
Copy the code from the box which then appears. Go to the Desktop, right click and select New/Text Document. Open the txt file, paste in the code and save it with a name such as Twitter_widget.
Now click on this link taken from the post Adding your Twitter feed to your Posterous sidebar and click the raw link. Copy and paste the html code into another txt document following the same procedure as before. Save this file with a name such as Twitter_widget2. Open Twitter_widget and copy the text then in Twitter-widget2 drag over the code directly underneath <!-- Paste twitter feed here --> starting with <script src down to </script> and paste the text from Twitter_widget over the top to replace it. Save Twitter_widget2 and close it.
Go to the Start Menu, Control Panel and Folder Options. Click the View tab and untick the box next to Hide extensions for known file types. Click Apply and OK.
Go to the Desktop again, right-click the txt file Twitter_widget2 you've just created and change the title from twitter_widget.txt to twitter_widget.html. Hit Enter. You will see the message If you change a file extension, the file may become unusable. Are you sure you want to change it? Click Yes. You will notice the icon of your file has now changed.
You now need to upload this html file to the web. In this example, we shall use Dropbox. Login, click the Files tab and click the folder marked Public.Click Upload. Choose files. Select the file twitter_widget2. Click Open and Start upload. Right click the file and select Copy public link from the menu on the right and click Copy to clipboard. Close the dialogue box.
In Posterous, click Settings in the Manage section and the Edit Theme button. Clicked Advanced on the left and Expand on the right. Scroll to about 3/4 of the way down the page until you see the code <div class="sidebarunit">. Highlight the code as far as </div> and replace it with:
As you can see, I've added the link to the uploaded Twitter widget in the code and changed the height and width values to 500px and 240px. Click Save, I'm done! and OK. Wait a moment and your blog's homepage will appear displaying the Twitter widget. Easy!
Using the bookmarklet
Another revelatory way of seamlessly embedding content is by using the Posterous bookmarklet straight from your browser. To add the bookmarklet, click on the link at the bottom of the Manage section or click on this link directly.
The instructions on how to install the bookmarklet are underneath the Share on Posterous button and how to guides are on the right hand side of the page. So for Internet Explorer, right click the button and choose Add to Favorites.
You will see the message You are adding a favourite that might not be safe. Do you want to continue? Click Yes and Add in the next dialogue box which appears.
Select Favorites Bar from the dropdown menu and click Add.
For Firefox, click and drag the button onto your Bookmark Bar. To check your Bookmark Bar is activated, right click anywhere in the blank space above the address bar and make sure there is a tick next to Bookmarks Toolbar.
Once installed, login to your Posterous account, then go to any webpage and click on the bookmarklet. A white panel will appear showing you a title and what examples of embedded content or excerpts are available for transfer.
If the page contains more than one item, you can click on the numbered arrows to navigate through the selection. You can also add a comment in the box provided. Please note though that the bookmarklet will only work if the user is logged into Posterous first.
If you want to post at a certain time, autopost or make your post private, click on the Advanced Options link and tick the appropriate box.
If you have a number of blogs running from the same account, click on the dropdown menu Which site do you want to post this to? and select the desired destination.
When you’re ready hit Post and click on the link See your post now. If you now hover over the title of your newly published post, you’ll notice three links appear Edit, Delete and Tag which allow you to customise further or start again.
As an example, if we click on the bookmarklet when viewing my recent celebratory post about ILILC, you can see that there are a number of excerpts that can be immediately transfered. These include a SlideShare, Animoto clip, an image, Go! Animate player and Blip.tv video clip.
Experimenting further I’ve found that the following sites work in the same way too:
AudioBoo, Flickr (including slideshows), SpicyNodes, YouTube, Vimeo, ToonDoo, VoiceThread, Podomatic player, Voki, (once published without the need to copy the embed code), Glogster (although this was a little hit and miss), Storybird, Scribd, iPadio and Google Maps which adds a View Larger Map link underneath. Love it!
Other tools such as Cover it Live, classtools games and Wallwisher couldn’t be embedded via the bookmarklet, but could be by clicking on the blue HTML button in the editing screen and pasting in the necessary code.
The advantage of using the bookmarklet to post content to your Posterous blog is it requires no understanding of how embed codes work, where to find them and how to adjust height and width values so they fit properly on a page. The bookmarklet does everything for you which potentially is a fantastic timesaver.
I can see this being useful for quickly transfering Web 2.0 projects into Posterous as well as creating comprehension exercises based on authentic texts, video clips, sound files etc culled from the web and adding appropriate questions in the bookmarklet’s comments field.
This would be so quick and easy to do, it could almost be done on the fly. Alternatively, pupils could email the teacher a direct link to their Animoto or Go! Animate 4 Schools presentations or better still post it on a wiki and then he or she could open it and use the bookmarklet to transfer the best examples to the blog from there.
Sending private posts and tagging them could also be a good way of building up a bank of useful excerpts for the teacher which he or she could then make public at the appropriate point in the year when that particular topic comes up. Respecting copyright is obviously an issue and although each excerpt shows an attribution link at the bottom of the post when published, I would take careful heed of the advice given in this clip by Josh Galvan about only copying short gobbits of text and making sure the content is appropriate for the intended audience. Josh has made a number of detailed and comprehensive how to guides for Posterous and these can be found here.
Using Google Reader
You can also add Posterous as a Send to location in Google Reader giving you another way of publishing interesting links as soon as you come across them. To set this up, click on the Manage Subscriptions link bottom left and the Send to tab in the Settings page. Put a tick next to the Posterous icon and click the Back to Google Reader link. Click on on a link to open up a post and click on the grey downwards arrow next to Send to at the bottom of this post. Click the Posterous link which appears.
To avoid breaching copyright and publishing content without permission., click on the excerpt to reveal the HTML code underneath. Click in front of the word via and drag over the code preceding it. Delete the highlighted text and add the <div> tag.
Doing this makes the attribution clear and if readers click on the link they will be taken to the original article.
Click OK, when you're done and Post.
I hope I've been able to achieve the two objectives I set out in the beginning of this post and proved how easy classroom blogging can be. Up until recently I've considered Posterous as a wonderful moblogging tool, but thanks to the pioneering work of teachers such as Jen Turner, Andrew Jeppesen, Wesley Fryer and Richard Byrne my eyes have been opened to whole new range of possibilities.
What I particularly like about Posterous as a classroom blogging tool is its ease of use. Anyone who can email can take part. Simple as. Of course, you can play around with RSS feeds, adding Twitter widgets and Posterous bookmarklets if you want, but if you don't have to to get going. Admittedly, setting up a blog or blogs will take a bit of time but once done, the rest should be a doddle.
Here’s a wishlist of certain features I feel would enhance the service even more for the classroom and beyond.
These include being able to:
- embed individual audio or video players into other sites
- embed a blog player including all audio or video posts
- edit posts before uploading on iPhone/Android app and have landscape as well as portrait views
- send a contributor a private comment which appears in the Manage section in a comments column
- see the latest comments at a glance in a list in the Manage section.
- edit comments, not just approve or reject them
- see contributors' email addresses in the Manage section under posts or comments they have written
- turn off email notification for contributors and moderate their posts
- have a comments feed for a password protected or public blog
- make video files and PDFs iTunes compatible for private or public feeds
- embed html into the sidebar to allow you to add educational widgets
- login as a contributor so you can use Post.ly, the bookmarklet and Send to feature in Google Reader to publish content, but not have access to the Manage section of the blog
If you'd like to have a look at the blog example I set up at the CILT PLS the address is plsblogexample.posterous.com and the password is CILTPLS. You'd be more than welcome.
Then after that, why not experiment with a departmental blog for showcasing your pupils' work and see how you find it? How hard can it be?
This Xtranormal video makes the point brilliantly!
Is classroom blogging a no brainer? I look forward to your feedback. Class dismissed.