Crowdsourcing as a Class with Blogger

The first few days of school can be a bit of a blur for students who are bombarded with syllabi and class rules. One of the ways I like to break the cycle of “sit and get” that first week of school is to use a crowdsourcing activity to put the responsibility of establishing expectations on my students. Instead of telling them what I expect, I ask them questions like:

    • What would make this class feel like a community?
    • What can your peers do to make you feel welcome?
    • How can you help to keep this classroom a safe space?

My students have been in school for 10 years by the time they get to my class, so they have a pretty good idea of what makes a classroom a welcoming and safe community.

Screen shot 2014-08-16 at 3.54.38 PM

The second day of school, I asked them to discuss what they thought was polite versus rude when engaging in different forms of communication. In small groups, they had time to talk about their particular mode of communication. Then they constructed a “dos and don’ts” list of behaviors for face to face communication, text messages, photos sharing with commenting ability (Snapchats or Instagram), and email. Given the large number of students using photo sharing apps, I was particularly interested in their take on what was polite and what was rude.

Screen shot 2014-08-16 at 3.50.38 PM

The challenge is that I don’t have enough wall space or white board to capture all of their incredible ideas. I also want to make sure we can reference the ideas they generate throughout the year.

Instead of crowdsourcing on the board, which is temporary, students post their ideas directly to our class blog. Our class blog is a space specifically designated for them to share ideas. I have a class website, but the class blog belongs to them.

Using Blogger to Crowdsource

Step 1: Set up your blog

You’ll find the Blogger app by clicking the collection of squares in the upper right hand corner of your Gmail. Blogger is Google’s free blogging tool, so it’s attached to your Gmail account.

Blogger - click on blogger icon

Step 2: Give your blog a name

Blogger - create a new blog

Step 3: Change setting to allow students to email and text directly to your class blog

Screen shot 2014-08-16 at 4.13.23 PM

You’re all set! Now students can use their devices in class to post their ideas and crowdsource. You can capture it in one shared space where everyone can view the information that has been generated.

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21 Responses to Crowdsourcing as a Class with Blogger

  1. Mark Rathjen says:

    Hi Catlin,
    I’m trying to decide whether to have my students blog via Blogger, or whether to simply have them create their own sites and include an “Announcement” type page (posts to that page would be their blog posts). Seems like a 50/50 call to me, but maybe I’m missing something? I teach 7th graders.

    Mark Rathjen

    • Hi Mark,

      Each of my students have their own blog using Blogger. They are able to blog about any topic they are passionate about. I wrote a blog describing my philosophy. I like that they have their own blogs and are creating a digital footprint. The announcement approach might make your life easier, but I have not experimented with that.

      We also use a shared class blog for activities like crowdsourcing.


      • Cynthia Ruiz says:

        I know it’s been a while since this thread, but I was wondering if you still use Blogger? And if you still let students have their own individual blog, how did you “check” it? I’ve moved away from traditional grading but I do still have to answer to admin and want to hold my students accountable for good citizenship. Any tips/advice would be super helpful! Thanks!!

        • Hi Cynthia,

          Yes, I still use Blogger. I collect blog information with a Google Form and go from there to check their posts. That way all of their URLs are in one spreadsheet. That said, I don’t try to grade every blog they write.


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  3. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for sharing this gem of an idea…AMOF, I just unabashedly stole it for use in a team-building effort for a small city government department I’m working with. Love cross-utilization/application of universally-great ideas – thank you!

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  9. Ilse says:

    You inspired me to try crowdsourcing with my class. I’m going to try a similar activity with Google Classroom (posting the questions and having students reply in the stream).
    Thanks for sharing all of your ideas,

  10. Dan Peo says:

    Hi, Catlin,

    I am so glad to hear that this is possible with Blogger. When students post on the classroom blog, does that immediately go live or do you have the ability to moderate and approve posts before they go live?


  11. Kim LeNoue says:

    Hello Catlin,
    I am brand new to blogging. I’ve created a class blog page and I followed your steps to allow students permission to add to the class blog. I do have one question.
    I switched the Posting via email, to publish immediately. Is that correct? It prompted me to come up with a secret word. There wasn’t any mention of that in your post, so I’m not sure of I did it correctly.

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