If you’ve been using WordPress for your classroom blog for a while, then you’re probably used to finding the privacy settings for your site by clicking “privacy” in the settings menu
This lets you decide whether you want your site to get listed by the search engines.
As of December 2012, the privacy settings have moved in the latest version of WordPress (3.5). They’re now called site visibility settings and you can find them in the Reading section of your classroom blog’s setting menu:
I guess this makes sense because WordPress now calls them “site visibility” options instead of privacy options. This is more accurate because when you run your own WordPress server for your classroom blog, the only two options you get are basically allow search engines to list you or ask search engines to ignore you.
If you’re a teacher running a classroom blog or a network of student blogs / websites, then privacy is a very real concern. Your privacy options are different depending on whether your website is on WordPress.com or your running your own WordPress server.
If your class site is on WordPress.com, then you have an additional (site visibility) privacy options: you can make your site private and visible only to your students. (WordPress.com used to limit you to 35 users on a private blog, but in Jan 2012, they removed the limit. This means that teachers can run a free, private classroom blog on WordPress.com with as many students as you wish. Of course, your students have to create their own free wordpress accounts.
If you run your own WordPress server, then you can install a free WordPress plugin called More Privacy Options which give you three additional privacy options:
- Make your blog visible to any community member. (In other words, anyone that has a user account on your WordPress server)
- Make your blog visible to only registered users on your blog. (So, only student users that you’ve added to your blog. This is the same as the WordPress.com option, “I would like my site to be private, visible only to users I choose.”)
- Make your blog visible only to administrators.
(By the way, as of Dec 2012, these privacy options now show up in the Reading Settings section of your WordPress blog)
Sometimes you want to buy your own website address because MySchool.com is easier for students and parents to remember than something like MySchool.wordpress.com.
4 Things Teachers should know about buying a domain name for your class website
If you already have your classroom website up and running, here are some things to know before you buy your first domain name.
- Getting your own domain name will cost around $10 to $15 per year for the domain name. (This is just the web address of your class website.) Some domain registrar companies will charge $35 per year for the same domain name
- Some places have special promotional prices for $0.99 domain names. Make sure you read the fine print. Usually the promotional pricing lasts for the first year, and then afterwards, you have to pay their regular ($10-$15+) fee
- Even if you have a free wordpress blog somewhere, you’ll probably have to pay additional fees to use the domain name you just bought. This feature is called domain mapping. (You may not have to pay attention fees. Skip to the end.)
- For example, it costs $13.00 (per year) to use your own domain name on your WordPress.com blog.
- If you use Edublogs, it will cost $39.95 (per year or $7.95 per month) to upgrade to the Educator Pro account and use your own custom domain.
- If you run your own WordPress server using the free software that you download from WordPress.org, then there are ways you can use your custom domain for free, but you’ll need to pay for webhosting services (unless you can run WordPress on your school servers for free.) I started off with running class websites on a shared hosting plan with BlueHost, but now I pay for a more powerful (and more expensive) cloud server with VPS.net.
- Be careful! Your personal information (address, phone number) might be published on the internet.
- When you register a domain name, the registration information gets published on a public WHOIS database.
- Some domain name companies will offer “Whois Privacy” so that it hides your personal information behind another company name.
- WHOIS privacy can be free or company can charge money. For example, GoDaddy charges $10 per year (for each domain name) to protect your personal information.
Over the past few years, I’ve run a bunch of websites for my class, my colleagues, and my school. I’ve bought from the big guys like GoDaddy with their superbowl commercials.
Right now, I buy my domain names from 10dollar.ca,
- It only costs $10.45 (CAD) per year for a Canadian .CA domain name. It costs slightly more ($13.06/yr) for a .COM domain name.
- They offer free WHOIS privacy so I don’t have to worry about my address and phone number getting posted online.
- They have a “DNS Manager” which gives me advanced control over the domain name so I can use it with my WordPress website.
If you do decide to get your own domain name…
Here are three things to consider:
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- Make sure you get a domain name that is easy for students to remember and spell. (I’m always amazed at spelling mistakes that people make.)
- Are you going to get a .CA or a .COM or a .ORG domain name? What website will your students and parents land on if they make a mistake entering your class website address. TDSB.ca leads to an official school board website. TDSB.com leads to advertising.
- What words come up when you google your custom domain name? I’m also amazed at the number of students and teachers who type in a website address into a Google search bar (and not their actual browser.) Google the custom website address that you’re thinking about using and see what shows up on the top page.
- What are you going to do with your class website next year when you’re teaching a new class? Are you going to keep the same domain name and delete the content? I know a person who has bought an easy-to-remember class website address. Students type in TEACHERNAME.COM and get redirected to TEACHERNAME2012.WordPress.com – a free class website. Next year, students will type in TEACHERNAME.COM and get redirected to the current class website (TEACHERNAME2013.WordPress.com) – but all of the former students could still visit their old site and remember the good ol’ days. (Oh, and this way, you don’t have to pay the extra fees to map your domain and use your custom website address with your free WordPress website.)