I recently made the switch from Blogger over to WordPress. This move has been planned for a long time, but I didn’t really find the time until a couple weeks ago. Based upon the comments and occasional e-mails I receive, I think my audience is blend of educational technologists and teachers with varied amounts of tech savvy-ness. So the rest of this is aimed at the teacher with some knowledge of blogging, but probably not the high end user.
While Blogger was great, I felt limited with the number of features. Even with Blogger-Beta there is still limited potential. WordPress can be as simple or complex as you want it. Use it as a simple blog or transform it to a content management system.
There are two ways you can use WordPress.
- Install it (or have it installed) on a server. By doing this you can have a specific domain name, but you have to have access to a MySQL control panel. The installation is pretty easy for the moderate techie, but if you have any doubts either have someone help you or go with option two. You can download it at WordPress.org.
- You second choice is to set up a free hosted account at WordPress.com. Like Blogger, you can have a blog set up in minutes. You can still upload images and documents with the hosted account and there are NO ads. Your address shows up as ahisoryteacher.wordpress.com.
Regardless of the option you select, you can import ALL of you posts and comments from most other types of blog engines (I brought over almost 200 posts and 400 comments). Once you have your account up, there is an import option in the administration section.
I’m going to go through a handful of the major features that distinguish WordPress from Blogger.
It seems like I always come across one of the five decent templates available from Blogger. If using the hosted WordPress account, there are some 60 templates to chose from. They are much more sophisticated, but still have a simplicity that is essential for a blog. If hosting yourself, then there hundreds to select from at WordPress.org (you just have to download them and then upload them to the templates folder).
This is one of the best features of WordPress. You can add “static” pages to your blog with information you don’t want to put in a regular post or to disappear into the archives. This feature allows you to make WordPress a simplified content management system. I will go into more detail about how to use WordPress as a classroom web site in a future post.
This blog is a smorgasbord of topics. I’ve discussed politics, teaching, technology in general, wikis, blogs, Moodle, my kids, my students, labor issues, and probably a number of other items. With WordPress, I can now categorize each post.
At the WordPress.org site are numerous addons, including templates and plug-ins to increase the functionality of your blog. They range from adding a calendar, password protecting your entire blog, or adding Technorati tags easily.
Should you move?
The moving process for me took about 15 minutes plus the time to customize the template (about two hours). You have to change address which might cause your readership to drop, but most who were reading in the first place should follow (that’s what I’m hope at least). In the end, it is personal preference, if these features don’t matter, stay where you are! As I discovered more about WordPress, I just felt like I needed to move.
I’ve also used Moveable Type which has a similar number of bells and whistles as far as plug-ins are concerned (it does not the pages feature), but the hosted service (TypePad) requires a fee and the free individual license limits the number of contributors you can have on your own server.