One of the coolest things about having students blog in the classroom is that they are writing for an authentic purpose. If your students have a public blog, teachers, classmates, friends and family overseas, and the entire world can read their words.
I find my students are excited knowing that other people are reading their work. If your students blog using WordPress, then there are a few different plug-ins you can use to track visitors to your site as well as the search terms that they used in Google to find your site.
The Jetpack plug-in is a nice fun because it’s easy to set up, but there are a few things that you might want to think about before making it available on your student blogging network.
JetPack is a simple plug-in that does lots of cool things including keep track of visitors using WordPress.com stats. (You can use it on both a WordPress.com site or on your own self hosted WordPress site.)
Here are a couple of reasons why you want this plug-in:
- You can see how often people are visiting your site. (Teachers might be interested to know if your students are actually visiting their class website.)
- It gives you a nice table that shows you all of the search terms that people used to get your site.
- It’s easy to install. Activate the plug-in and connect it to your WordPress.com account.
There are a few downsides to using the Jetpack statistics plug-in on your student blogging network:
1. First and foremost, you need a WordPress.com account in order to track visitors to your site.
You need to be 13 years or older to create a WordPress.com account. Of course, if you have younger students, you can get around this by creating a class account that you then use with all of your student blogs.
2. Each student blog needs to connect to their WordPress.com account to let the tracking magic begin.
Even if you’re running a multisite blogging network and you network activate this plug-in, you still need to go in and set things up blog by blog. You have to do this manually, but it’s not that bad. If you log into your WordPress.com account with your class account, your web browser will remember that you’re signed in, and you won’t have to type in your password as you connect each of your student blogs.
3. You need to modify the Jetpack plug-in if you want to prevent students from being able to change the WordPress.com account connected to their student blogs.
Basically,you need to add some code that will only show the connect/disconnect button to teacher admin account. Why would you want to do this? Well, as a class teacher, you might want to be able to track all of the visitors from one single WordPress.com account. Once you go in and sync your class WordPress.com account to all of your student blogs, you don’t want your students going in and accidentally disconnecting the account or switching to a different account. You need to customize the Jetpack plug-in to prevent students from going in and undoing all of your hard work.)
4. Finally, the Jetpack plug-in comes with lots of modules that you may not want to offer to your students.
For example, you may not want your students to be able to share their work with social media tools like Facebook or Twitter. (In theory, you’re not allowed to use Facebook if you’re under 13 years old…) As a teacher, you may not want to even go there with your grade four students on their own student blogs. , you may not want them to be sharing their student work on Facebook.
If you’re able to edit the plug-in, then disabling module so they don’t even show up students is really simple. (All you need to do is delete the modules that you don’t want, or simply rename the file so that it ends with.txt instead of.php) . In the example below, I’ve disabled the contact form, Gravatar hover card, the sharing module and the VaultPress modules:
If you don’t disable the code in the plug-in itself, it means that students will be able to see the modules and activate or deactivate them as they want.
5. And, of course, the downside to modifying plug-ins means that when the Jetpack plug-in gets updated, you’ll have to go in and make those changes again.
I wish there was a way to control which Jetpack plug-in modules are available on a multisite WordPress installation, but I haven’t found a way right now other than going in and modifying the code.
This blog post was dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium.
- There were 776 words in the first draft of this post.
- Dragon Naturally Speaking made 16 word errors which mean that it transcribed 97.9% of the words correctly.
- The voice recognition software also made an additional 6 punctuation, capitalization and command recognition errors meaning the total accuracy rate was 97.2%.