Taking School News World Wide with WordPress #edchat

WordPress has changed my Journalism class forever.
Three years ago I took over our Journalism class, which published school news only to our local paper, reaching about 1,000 readers per week.  Then when I took over, I decided to continue publishing in print to our local paper once a month, but move everything over to a school news website. To do this, I simply used iWeb to create the website and then published it to our school’s server.  A few things proved cumbersome about this process:

  • I had to manually create the layout in order to suit our needs, then republish everything every time I changed anything…even the smallest corrections.
  • Our views were relatively low.  I added some iWeb SEO tools to make it more search friendly in Google and track some analytics, but that was also a timely process.
  • Creating photo albums in iWeb was simple, but still took longer than I had liked.
  • When students would finish an article, I would have to do the proofreading, and then add the article by copying and pasting into iWeb.  The same held true with photos from athletic events.

Needless to say, everything had to come through me in order for it all to be put together.Then Apple made my job easier by essentially killing iWeb. This really has been a blessing in disguise.

Back to the Drawing Board

We are still in our first year 1:1 with iPads, but our first time using them for Journalism class.  So I spent some time this summer really rethinking the process our online school newspaper goes through to publish, and I decided to giveWordPress a look. I thought about Blogger, but there were some things that WordPress offered that I really liked, particularly the blog designs.

The New Publishing Process

Now with iPads, the process looks much different…
  1. Students write their articles in the Google Drive app and share with me.  This allows for synchronous co-editing
  2. Once ok, students copy and paste into Blogsy (by far the best blogging app for iPad).
  3. Students use the Camera Connection Kit to get pictures from our really nice school camera to the iPad.
  4. Students touch up photo in the built-in Photos app or use the iPhoto app for finer editing.
  5. Import picture into article on Blogsy.
  6. Specify the category for the article.
  7. Hit publish.
  8. Article is published to centraltatler.com, our Twitter account, and our Facebook account all at once.
Voila!  The WordPress layout automatically does all of the layout work for me like most blogging sites, but it looks sharper and more professional than Blogger…in my opinion.

By the Numbers

One feature that I truly appreciate about WordPress is the STATS.  This has not only given us valuable information, it has also motivated my students in brand new ways.

The results of switching over to WordPress has been astounding!  In two months time, here are our latest stats:
  • Average over 1,500 views…per day!
  • 8,196 views on our best day on Oct. 1st, 2012 (Homecoming).
  • Over 60,000 total views so far (the old website had 13,000 total views in two years).
  • Our site has been visited by 15 other countries besides the U.S.
That last one really puts the students (and me) in aw.
It’s incredible to think that a little school in NE Iowa with only 120 students in the high school, and only 10 in the Journalism class, can have their writing read on a worldwide scale.

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