Beam is a robotic telepresence tool that allows anyone to collaborate and participate in activities virtually at any time anywhere. These robots can be a great tool that helps to encourage distributed learning within a classroom setting. The ability to still be able to collaborate productively while located anywhere is a very valuable tool.
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As a teacher starting a classroom blog it is important to have a solid idea of what the blog will look like before actually creating it. Having a good plan and sticking to it can mean the difference between failure and success for your classroom blog.
First off as a teacher you should think about who your audience will be. What is the purpose of the blog and who are you trying to reach are great questions to ask yourself. This could include parents, students, the school or just the general community. Dependent on this the creation of the classroom blog will take on different forms.
Secondly, the teacher must decide the name of the classroom blog. This can tend to be more challenging then you would first think. This is because the domain has to be unique and with the sheer quantity of people on the Internet the teacher may have to be creative with the name they choose. A tip for finding a domain name that has not been used is to choose something that is obscure and unique to the classroom or school. That way it is less likely that someone else will have already taken the name.
Arguably most importantly, what will the students be blogging about? The blog can take on whatever form the teacher can imagine and has no limitations to what it can be used for. The most obvious way a classroom blog can be used is to build on information that is touched upon in class. The teacher could also ask questions on a particular article or video and have students respond with their thoughts.
Who will be blogging and how often is another important question a teacher can ask themselves. Will all the students’ blogs be posted every week or will only the best students blog be posted? It is important to set up a routine for the students to follow so they can be prepared and know what is expected of them.
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It is important while setting up a classroom blog to keep in mind safety measures that will protect the students online and reduce risk. A few important guidelines should be followed throughout the classroom blogging experience to promote these safety measures. Students should first only identify by their first names while posting online. This is important because it allows the students to become anonymous to a point and protect the students further from threats that occur online. Posts should not include personal details about a student either. This would include things like addresses, family information, telephone numbers, schools name or a friends personal information. Knowing that the internet is open to all, we do not want students to give up personal information that could lead to harming them in the future. When parents leave comments on a blog they are also asked to only identify their child by their first name. The teacher should also talk to the students about bulling online and how it is not acceptable. The STOP, BLOCK, TELL rule is a good one to follow for online bullying. All of these safety measures can be managed by having the teacher first approve posts and comments before they are put on the Internet. That way if a student is engaging in unsafe internet practices the teacher can catch these and stop them before the post is shared with the world online. Students should also know about general online safety as well. Speaking to them about things like not meeting up with anyone face to face they meet online is important. Moreover, students should know to never share Internet passwords with anyone except their parents. Parents should also be informed to check the privacy settings on all devices and sites their child is using. The settings should be the highest possible.