What a Teacher needs in a Web 2.0 technology

May 23, 2008

There is a tremendous amount of free or cheap Web 2.0 services out there on the Internet. A quick web search turned up well over 50 free blog hosting services. How can a school or teacher decide which service to use?

I suggest the following guidelines will help make the decision process a bit more manageable. In general, you want to be able to way “Yes” to each of these questions, or at least be aware of the consequences.

Test 1 – Availability

  • Is the service available on your campus? (is it blocked by filters and if so can you get it unblocked?)
  • Does it require a download or software installation? If so, is this manageable on all computers where you and your students will need it?
  • Is there a cost involved? If so, are you willing to pay it?

Test 2 – Safety and Security

  • Take a look at the previous post for a better understanding of the need for educating students about privacy and their online identities.
  • Can student work be kept private (under password)?
  • Can the teacher access private student work?
  • Is all student work associated with a username (can you identify who did what)?
  • Can the teacher maintain “administrator” type privileges on the students accounts?
  • Can commenting, discussion boards, or any other interactive feature be controlled and moderated by the teacher?
  • Are there inappropriate advertisements on the site?
  • Does the site provide easy access to questionable content?

Test 3 – Usability

  • Is it easy?
  • Is there ample “how to” documentation available?
  • How are user accounts created?
  • Is there an active user community where you can find help and ideas?
  • Is the interface simple enough for students to pick up quickly? (the goal is working with content and ideas, not learning how to use a tool)
  • Is the time and effort required to do “something” worth the benefits?

The above basic guidelines will serve as a good general evaluation. Below are a few additional things to think about for specific technologies.


  • Can the teacher preview post prior to publication?
  • Can the teacher preview comments?
  • Can comments be turned off?
  • Are you satisfied with the amount of storage?


  • Does the history show who made each edit?
  • Is it easy to roll back to earlier versions?
  • Can discussions be moderated and controlled?

Social Bookmarking

  • Can users in the general public contact account holders?
  • Will students have their own accounts or will students just view teacher accounts? (ok, this is not a yes no question, but necessary because teachers may use a social bookmarking service as a way to distribute websites to students with students only going to the list and clicking links)
  • Is it easy for students to get to questionable content?

One Response to “What a Teacher needs in a Web 2.0 technology”

  1. […] Edublogs for Blogging Edublogs (http://edublogs.org/) is my recommendation for teacher and student blogging. It meets the standards put forth here and here. […]

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