Friday, January 9, 2015

Better Blogger.com Settings for Educators

At the @NJECC conference this week, my friend @mr_isaacs told me he was using Blogger.com as his blogging platform for EdTechBridge, but was unhappy that the "Next Blog >>" link at the top took his readers - many of whom are students - to a random blog which they may not find appropriate. In outlining a solution for him to turn this off, I realized there are probably other things that are worth suggesting for educators looking to use Blogger.com as a free and incredibly easy way to get their blog hosted (see *CAVEATS at bottom of post).

Here are some suggestions for making Blogger a better platform for educator blogs...
Make sure you first go to Blogger.com (sign in if you aren't yet) and click on the title of the blog you want to change. That should take you to the settings screen... Then continue below:

1 - Turn OFF the "Next Blog >>" link in the header


  • STEP 1: Click on "Layout" on the left navigation
  • STEP 2: There should be a "NavBar" box in the upper right of the layout - click the "edit" link in that box to change the Navigation Bar.
  • STEP 3: In the dialog that shows the different "NavBar" options (which are all really just different color schemes), select the last option, which is "OFF" - and click "Save" in that dialog.
  • STEP 4: Click the "Save Arrangement" button to save your changes, then Click the Preview button to check your changes - you should see no navigation bar at all.

2 - Add a "Search Gadget" (since the prior step removes the search box too)


  • STEP 1: Click on "Layout" on the left navigation
  • STEP 2: Click on the "Add A Gadget" link on the right side of the screen - assuming that's where you want the search box to appear (recommended)
  • STEP 3: In the dialog that shows, scroll down to find the "Search Box" gadget, and click the big blue "+" button - then click SAVE on the bottom of that dialog.
  • STEP 4: Click the "Save Arrangement" button to save your changes

3 - Turn ON Comment Moderation (or Turn off commenting completely)


  • STEP 1: Click on "Settings" on the left navigation (at the bottom)
  • STEP 2:  Click on "Posts and Comments" in the submenu that appears under Settings
  • STEP 3: Under "Comment Moderation", click the "Always" option (the default is "never") and click the "Save Settings" button in the upper right. 
  • NOTE: You can also turn off commenting completely for a specific post by using the "Post Settings" on the right side of the post editor when you are writing a post (or editing the post later).

4 - Set Privacy options (Optional, and rare, for private blogs only)

  • NOTE: Only do this if you intend your blog to be private to a small, defined group of people who log in. Making your blog private makes it much harder for people to find and read - so only do this if that is your intention. 
  • STEP 1: Click on "Settings" on the left navigation (at the bottom)
  • STEP 2:  Click on "Basic" in the submenu that appears under Settings
  • STEP 3: Under the "Privacy" section, click "edit". In both options "Add your Blog to our listings" and "Let search engines find your blog", click the "NO" option. Then click "Save Changes".
  • STEP 4: Under "Publishing"/ "Blog Readers", click "edit" and select the option you prefer - refer to this blogger help article for more information on these options. Then click "Save Changes".
*CAVEATS: 
Blogger is not officially part of the Google Apps For Education (GAFE) suite - and the ideas in this post are not intended to make Blogger compliant with all your requirements as an educator. Blogger is a consumer product that your GAFE domain administrator can choose to make available to you as a user of your school/district GAFE domain. It is still up to you and your domain administrator to make sure any software you use meets the requirements of your use - especially as an educator who needs to abide by any terms of use set by your school or district.

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