Creating a homework blog in 3 simple steps using email

Posterous has been mentioned a couple of times before on this blog. First, Phil Rowland set up a blog using the service for his BTEC Sport students (although he’s now extended it to include all his PE groups). Next, our librarian, Angie Dickson, set one up. Both have been impressed by how easy Posterous is to use.

Here’s how to get started (taken directly from Posterous‘ official guide):

Yep, that’s it! It really is very easy. No signups, and pretty much everything can be done via email. You can, of course, create a blog post via logging into the site itself, but most of the people I’ve spoken to about it like the ability to create them by email. 🙂

Anything that you attach to an email to Posterous will be dealt with ‘intelligently’ and added to the blog post. For example, here’s an email I sent to my Posterous blog:

 (click to enlarge)

and here’s how it turned out:

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It really couldn’t be any easier to set up a blog! The only things I would recommend you take care over are:

  • Set the name of your blog, it’s address, and decide who can comment: login to your Posterous account and then click on ‘Manage’ at the top right-hand corner of your blog. Clicking on ‘Edit my posterous’ allows you to change the site name, where it is on the Internet (e.g. mrbelshaw.posterous.com and choose who is allowed to comment on your blog posts.
  • Set an avatar: an avatar is a small icon representing you on the Internet. I always use my little South Park character. There are many sites you can use to create something similar, including faceyourmanga.com, a South Park character generator (unfortunately blocked on our school network), and the Simpsons character generator on the SimpsonsMovie.com site! 🙂
  • Add some information about yourself: it doesn’t need to be much, but students and interested visitors need to know they’ve found the right blog and not someone else with the same name as you…

Here’s the Posterous-powered blogs so far at our school. I hope to add many more in the near future!

  1. Mr Belshaw (History – also links to GCSE History student blogs)
  2. Mr Rowland (PE)
  3. Mrs Dickson (library)

Librarian blogs and social networks

Angie Dickson, our new librarian, is an fan of the PE blog Phil Rowland set up for this academic year and wants to set up her own. Not only can she use this blog to communicate with students at our school, but with librarians and heads of information services worldwide!

Here’s some examples of some great (newbie-friendly) blogs in the field:

There are also some social networks powered by Ning related to libraries and information services:

Finally, there’s a great website called LibWorm that’s a search engine just for librarians! 🙂

(image from The Read/Write Web: Social Software and Libraries)

Posterous

Today, I helped Phil Rowland set up a blog to use primarily with his BTEC Sport class. We’d previously set one up via Edublogs, but it didn’t really get off the ground.

The blog platform I introduced to Phil was Posterous. I chose Posterous because it’s so easy to use. Here’s what you do:

  1. Email post@posterous.com from any email account of your choosing. The subject of your email is the title of your first post and the body of the email the content of the post.
  2. Posterous emails back asking you to click on a link to validate your blog. You are then logged-in and ready to setup your username (giving you username.posterous.com) and password.
  3. Further emails from the account you used to Posterous add more post to your new blog. Attachments are dealt with in an intelligent way: for example a YouTube video link automatically embeds that video in the blog post. It does similarly great things with Word documents, Powerpoint files, MP3s, etc.
  4. You can configure your profile by logging into Posterous – avatar, details about yourself, and link to other accounts you’ve got online – Flickr, Twitter, and more!

Phil’s still playing about with and getting used to his new blog – you can visit it at: http://mrrowland.posterous.com. I’m sure he’d appreciate a comment or two. 🙂

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