Dearborn Schools teachers are required to have and maintain a WordPress blog (“iBlog“) by posting each week. But juggling a blog and Google Classroom has been a serious concern for many teachers. In a lot of ways, teachers can be duplicating their work. The last thing teachers need to be doing with the little time they have is wasting any of it. There is, unfortunately, no good way to sync the two, aside from copying and pasting what is entered on one to the other.

Two Tools with Two Different Functions

It has sometimes been suggested that teachers only use one or the other. One aspect of this issue is obviously that blogs have been mandated by our superintendent and the Blog Committee, but also that iBlog and Google Classroom really have two different functions. iBlog is really designed to communicate information by broadcasting it to everyone who wishes to have access–most importantly parents. Google Classroom, on the other hand, is a platform to allow teachers to create interactive activities that go beyond just communicating information. As such, it doesn’t always serve as the best platform for communicating with parents. Furthermore, part of the rationale of the Committee was to make sure parents could access their students’ classes easily since blogs are visible to the entire world and have a place where parents and students could search and find them–all in one spot. So no matter who the teacher is, parents can go to iBlog and search their name and find their blogs.

Google Classroom has evolved, but it still doesn’t do the same thing as a blog.

Since the blog mandate, Google has created “Parent/Guardian Summaries”, which allows teachers to associate parent emails with their students so the parents can receive a customized update of what’s happening in their child’s Google Classroom. Here’s more info: https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/6388136?hl=en  But there are some inherent problems with this.
  1. In order to see the information, parents must have an email address (which some of our parents do not). The courses are not searchable on the internet like blogs are.
  2. Teachers must manually add parent emails to their students’ individual profiles in order for them to receive the email, which means they need to collect them and keep them updated if they change.
  3. Some teachers do not use Google Classroom, which means parents of some students will need to check iBlog for some of the teachers and Google Classroom (via email) for others. Parents who have multiple students in the Dearborn schools would obviously have this problem compounded.
  4. Teachers do not use Google Classroom for all of their assignments and activities. This means when a parent gets an email update, they may get a false sense of what’s actually going on because they will see only the announcements, assignments, etc. that teachers have posted on Google Classroom and not those that aren’t. Clearly, this could happen with iBlog too, though.
  5. Parents get summaries, so some of the information might not be timely enough for them to act on it.

Home Base

What I usually recommend to teachers is that they use iBlog as their “Home Base”. In other words, use it as the place where any student can answer the question: “If I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, where should I start?” Teachers can then place links to Google Classroom or wherever they wish for students to go to find more information or an assignment description so they’re not duplicating. The worst case scenario would be that they would need to copy and paste an assignment description in one or the other. But even if they only say “Your assignment tonight is on Google Classroom” and nothing else, this allows parents to know what their kids are learning even though they might not be able to access Google Classroom. They can then ask their students to log in so they can see what it is they’re supposed to do. Ultimately, this way of working things out creates the most transparency for teachers by allowing the most centralized access for students and parents without having to start with the question of “Where am I supposed to start?”
Need more tips on how to make the most of your work on your blog? Check out our earlier post, Tips for getting the most out of your blog. Also, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below!
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