When considering different options for creating an INTERACTIVE classroom blog as a teacher, it is vital to look for MODERATION features. In this post, I’ll explain how WordPress (a free, open-source blogging platform and content management system) provides content moderation options for teachers.
“Moderation” is the process of approving new blog posts and/or new comments to a blog. In our litigious U.S. society and communities often hyper-sensitive to social media when it comes to students, it is vital teachers use interactive blogs which support moderation. In WordPress, there are two different places where blog post and blog comment moderation settings can be changed.
To enable different levels of blog post moderation, as a teacher you’ll want to assign different ROLES to students than you have as the teacher and blog administrator. These are addressed in detail in the WordPress Codex in the article, “Roles and Capabilities.” That article explains:
WordPress has five pre-defined Roles: Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor and Subscriber. Each Role is allowed to perform a set of tasks called Capabilities. There are many Capabilities including publish_posts, moderate_comments, and edit_users.
For a classroom blog, generally it’s a good idea to assign students as either “Contributors” or “Authors.” If students are assigned the “contributor” role, they can write and submit posts to the blog, but someone else will have to APPROVE the post before it’s “live” or visible to the public. These users who have permission to approve posts made by others can either be assigned the “administrator” or “editor” role. As the teacher owning the blog, you’ll most likely have the “administrator” role.” If you have a parent volunteer or other adult helping you moderate the blog, you might give them the “editor” role. That way they can approve and modify posts when needed, but won’t be able to accidentally change your overall blog settings. In the screenshot below (click it for a larger version) you can see these steps. After logging into your WordPress “dashboard” to access the settings as an administrator:
- Click USERS in the left sidebar.
- Click to select the user whose ROLE you want to change.
- Above the user list, select the desired role in the drop down menu and click CHANGE.
After a “Contributor” user (a student in your class) submits a post, you or someone else with the “administrator” or “editor” role will need to approve their post. When you click ALL POSTS in the WordPress dashboard, you’ll see posts which need approval and be able to both read and either approve, edit, or delete posts. Because of the potential for spam, generally it’s best NOT to let anonymous people sign up for your blog and obtain any role other than “Subscriber.” My preference is to turn off user registration after all students and teachers have user accounts in your class blog. This helps prevent spam blog posts written by others or spambots.
To enable the desired level of comment moderation on a WordPress blog, click SETTINGS in the left sidebar and then choose DISCUSSION. The best setting for classroom blogs is “Before a comment appears – An administrator must always approve the comment.” This prevents surprise comments from appearing on your public blog without your prior approval.
To approve comments, click COMMENTS in the left sidebar and then “mouse over” each comment which is waiting for your action. You can approve, reply, ‘quick edit,’ edit, mark as spam, or trash a comment. This process is shown in the screenshot below.
WordPress is an outstanding platform for interactive classroom blogging, and its ability to permit teacher moderation of both posts and comments is a key feature. Don’t use a blogging platform with your students which doesn’t permit different levels (or roles) of access for posting and commenting!