eduBuzz Open Meeting

Today’s eduBuzz Open Meeting provided as usual a rich source of ideas for next steps and feedback from a range of activities over the past month.

We were pleased to welcome Alison Hunton, a parent whose two daughters Alice and Ellie are already amongst our youngest bloggers.

Topics covered included:

  • Internet skills for staff

As use of the internet becomes more embedded in school activities this is highlighting an ongoing need for training in some fairly basic web skills for staff. A useful resource for WordPress training is the Stuck With ICT site developed by Andrew Brown of LTS.

  • Internet safety for parents

Ollie Bray reported on the internet safety session recently run for Musselburgh parents. This training, based on CEOP standards, is planned for roll-out to clusters.

  • Comment spam

There were a couple of reports of nuisance comment spam, and the possibility of adding a Captcha check was discussed.

  • WordPress upgrade

A few points of feedback from the recent software upgrade arose, including the loss of the coloured text facility.

Support new web users amongst staff?

I found out today that there are staff trying to explore edubuzz who are still so unfamiliar with the web that they worry about clicking the wrong thing and breaking something, or about ending up somewhere and not being able to get back again.

No one has yet fed these points back in person: they came out of a meeting with Hilery Williams and Eleanor Carnell of Support For All today about making edubuzz more accessible.

This is good news in terms of the increase in audience, but it maybe means we need to cater more for the needs of this group. For example, our Support Wiki at currently targets an audience who are already past that stage. We don’t provide help, for example, in using Ctrl-Z to undo actions in Windows.

Ideas from the meeting included some home page options to explain terminology like blogs. The home page is currently being worked on, and these points will be used to inform that work.

It’s clear that there’s also scope to extend CPD to include foundations of web use. This could include such things as browser commands, use of the mouse and simple searching.

eduBuzz blogs: Regulus theme updated

If you use the Regulus theme for an eduBuzz blog, you may find you’re back to the default theme and need to select it again.

Regulus has been updated to Version 2.2.1 to fix a bug in the handling of comments (thanks Chris!).  I’d hoped it would go in seamlessly, but it looks like some blogs may need to have it selected again. Use Presentation / Themes, and click on the Regulus screenshot.

Pupil participation in secondaries – could the web help?


Via LTS Daily News today: The Scottish Consumer Council has issued a new survey report (pdf, 4pages) which shows that, although things are slowly improving, secondary pupils often still don’t have enough say in decisions that affect them.

Secondary school pupils were also critical of the amount that schools consult them with only one in eight secondary school students reporting that their schools consult them regularly on issues affecting them.

The focus is on Pupil Councils as the mechanism for involving pupils in decision-making. But it doesn’t recognise that the concept of Pupil Councils is based on the idea that it’s not practical to listen to the voice of large numbers of students. The web changes that, and could enable radical improvements, but this opportunity isn’t recognised in the paper. Instead the proposal is just to deal with current inconsistencies.

“We believe that the Scottish Government should convene a working group to develop guidance on pupil participation to ensure consistent standards across Scottish schools.

I’d like to support some Pupil Councils to exploit the web in their school to give more pupils much more of a voice. Any volunteers?

New features on eduBuzz blogs

The WordPress Multi-User software behind the eduBuzz blogs has been upgraded to the current version, 1.2.5a.

If you’ve got an eduBuzz blog, what will you notice?

  • The editor now offers a “Code” tab where you can – if you want – view and edit the XHTML code behind your posts directly. This is sometimes helpful for more adventurous bloggers. A little HTML here can add tables, for example, to a post or a page.
  • Anarchy buttonsThe Anarchy Media Player buttons are now displaying correctly, making it easy to embed videos from sites such as Google, YouTube and My Space simply by pasting the full URL of the video’s web page – use the yellow V button.

  • A new drop-down site menu in the Dashboard makes it much easier to work with a number of different edubuzz blogs.
  • Upload menuControl of how uploaded files are displayed is now easier. There are clear “radio buttons” to let you choose to show Thumbnail or Full size versions, and to enable you to easily make the image link to the original file.
  • A new Manage Uploads option enables you not just to easily browse uploaded files, but makes it easy to see their URLs. That’s ideal for when you want to supply your own image’s URL for a blogroll link, for example, or a blog header.

Here’s an example of an embedded YouTube video, the wonderful “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Using Us” by Michael Wesch.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

eduBuzz sign-up limited to fight spam blogs

Unfortunately the number of spam blogs being created at has gone from being an occasional nuisance to a many-times-a-day problem. We’re not alone in this: others are having similar problems.

We’ve been managing these manually, but as the frequency has increased this has become difficult.

As a temporary control, sign-ups have been currently restricted to email addresses within the following domains:

  • (school staff)
  • (non-school staff)
  • (some pupils)

Our aim is to eliminate automatic spam sign-ups using software controls, but attempts to date haven’t been successful, possibly because many of these are relatively new, and maybe don’t take account of possible WordPress Multi-User configurations.