Make Money Online in the Classroom

If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you’ve already been indoctrinated into the world of Making Money Online. Just do a search using one of the big 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft), and you’ll see ads beside your results.

When we were growing up, we made money as teens by mowing the lawn, babysitting the neighbour’s kids, or having a paper route. As we got older, we started to get our first job: working at summer camp, a fast food joint or the local supermarket. Finally, we went to college or university to earn a degree and get a “real” job.

So it can be hard for us to understand that kids want to (and can) make money online.

Here are two things to think about:

1. Make money online as a teacher to help offset the costs of your technology-integrated classroom.

2. Explore the topic of Making money online with your students (either as a media literacy unit or as an extra-curricular club.)

Continue reading “Make Money Online in the Classroom”

Still using WordPress for our Classroom Website

We’re just creating our new classroom website for the 2009-2010 year. We had it up and running in about 15 minutes by setting up WordPress 2.8.4 (3 minutes to create the site; 12 minutes to cut and paste the content from our Meet the Teacher newsletter.)

Continue reading “Still using WordPress for our Classroom Website”

Hide Google Ads based on Geographic Location (Country or City)

We’re thinking about starting an entrepreneurial (Make Money Online) extra-curricular computer club at school: applying critical reading, writing and thinking skills while trying our hand at online fundraising for our school. 

We’ll probably start with making niche-websites that are monetized by contextual ads (i.e. Google Adsense). Google has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to click fraud (i.e. clicking on your own ads.) And while making money online ethically will be the corner-stone of our club, it’s hard to believe that students won’t be tempted to click on the ads on their own at home. 

So, we need a way to hide the google ads from showing up to students in our city so they can’t click on their own ads, but still show google ads to the rest of the world.

Continue reading “Hide Google Ads based on Geographic Location (Country or City)”

Eduwikis: Create a Wikispace for your Classroom or School

This post is a work-in-progress as we experiment with using wikis in the classroom and school environment.

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Why we chose Bluehost to run our Classroom Blogs

UPDATE (Dec 2009): Why we’re thinking of leaving Bluehost.

Paying for a web host to run your own self-hosted WordPress blog is not for everybody. In fact, it’s for very few teachers out there.

If you’re new to blogging, start out with a free WordPress blog, either at WordPress.com or Edublogs.org. Try it out, create a school or classroom blog and see what you can and can’t do.

Many teachers are perfectly happy with what they are able to do with a free blog. Your students can post and comment in a perfectly safe environment using the basic templates (themes) and features (plug-ins) provided.

But some teachers will want more. And these are the people who should consider paying for some server space on a web host and running their own WordPress blog(s) off of their shared server space. Here are some ways to know if you’re ready to move up to a self-hosted WordPress blog. Continue reading “Why we chose Bluehost to run our Classroom Blogs”

Geotag Your Classroom Blog – Show Off Where Your Visitors Come From

Geotagging is the art and science of adding geographic information to stuff on the net. It’s interesting for teachers because it gives you a way to show your students who is reading their work published on the internet. Or, at least, where they’re from.

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Classroom Blogs – How to Protect Your Students’ Identities

If you publish a classroom blog, are you putting your students at risk? Maybe. The internet is a powerful tool and like cars, glue and the force, it can be used for good and evil.

The Risks

Here are three reasons why we need to consider how much personal information is intentionally or accidentally revealed.

  • The most obvious is the creepy stranger lurking on the internet that your parents always warned you about.
  • Less obvious is the custody battle that may be taking place behind the scenes.
  • Finally, there is the issue of student-on-student bullying – either this year, or somewhere down the road. (You google someone’s name, find some old student work and make fun of them about the content or writing quality.) Continue reading “Classroom Blogs – How to Protect Your Students’ Identities”

Locking Down Your EduBlog to Prevent Unauthorized Access

There are two situations where you might want to restrict access to your educational blog to just a few specific computers.

  • First, you might want to restrict the entire blog so it can only be accessed by people using school computers.
  • Second, you might want to restrict the login pages of your blog, so that students can only edit or modify their work using school computers. (This also helps prevents your site from getting hacked by observant students who have figured out your password.)

If you are pretty comfortable around computers and run a self-hosted blog (or have access to your website’s servers), then you should be able to lock down your class website to a few locations (IP addresses).

Why would you want to prevent your students from logging in at home?

I usually don’t allow my students to take their English work out of the classroom; I’m tired of dealing with lost homework. Besides, you can never be sure how much help a student receives at home.

Over the years, I’ve developed a folder system where all of our work stays in the folder. It’s great. First, students always come prepared to class (because their notes and drafts never leave the room). Secondly, the students have a portfolio documenting their learning over time. It’s great for metacognition because students can flip back through previous assignments in an attempt to prevent the same mistakes from happening again. Finally, I know exactly what a student is capable of because I can see all of their prewriting and drafts leading up to the published version.

However, a blog potentially ruins this keep-it-in-the-classroom policy because students can log in to their user accounts from home. The beauty of WordPress and other blogging platforms is that it can you can blog from anywhere in the world.

Also, some older students might be flexing their computer literacy (or vandalism) muscles. The login page for any blog powered by WordPress can usually be found by adding /wp-admin at the end of the website address. By locking down the wp-admin folder to a few specific IP addresses, you can greatly limit access to the administration back-end of your class blog.

How to lock down your (educational) blog’s administration / login folder.

If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, the following trick will prevent students from logging in (or hacking your website) at home. Note: You need to have access to the .htaccess file on your website. Our web host, BlueHost, provides access to this file, however, apparently not all web hosts do.

  1. Figure out the IP address of the computer that you want to use to access your blog. An IP address is your internet address online. There are various sites that will tell you your current IP address, including this one.
  2. Use a text editor (i.e. notepad) to create a file named .htaccess and cut and paste the following into the file:
AuthUserFile /dev/null
AuthGroupFile /dev/null
AuthName "Example Access Control"
AuthType Basic
order deny,allow
deny from all
allow from 123.456.789.123
allow from 12.345.678.123
  1. Replace 123.456.789.123 and 12.345.678 with your real IP address. Hint: If your Internet Service Provider gives you a range of IP addresses (For example 123.456.789.000 to 123.456.789.999), just drop the last octet number to allow a range. (For example, allow from 123.456.789)
  2. Upload your .htaccess file to your blog’s wp-admin folder. Now the only people who can access any file in the wp-admin folder must be using a computer with an IP address on your safe list (white list).Note: If you want to use the .htaccess file to limit access to your entire blog from specific computers, then you’ll need to copy and paste the above code into the existing .htaccess file on your website’s public folder (or wherever your WordPress blog files can be found). You must add the code into the existing .htaccess file instead of overwriting the file because WordPress has some important information in there already.

If the .htaccess file is modified correctly, whenever you try to login to your blog from an unauthorized computer, you should receive a 403 error that looks like this:

Question: Have you ever had a student hack into your class blog before?