Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Where did the Blogger app go?

Nothing is more frustrating than relying on a tool, building the tool into your units or lesson plans, and then, just as you go live, the tool stops functioning as promised or is no longer available.

 If you are exploring blogs in your classroom, the good news is that the service Blogger is still ROCK SOLID.  And it integrates with your Google accounts, which makes blogging in our environment a really seamless process.

 That is, until the Blogger app disappeared from the App Store in early February. At this point there has not been much mention of it online, and we don't know the why or the how of this disappearance. What we do know is educators are left to pick up the pieces in finding a suitable replacement for blogging in the classroom for students that do not already have Blogger installed on their iPad.  

Let's explore our options.

Web-Based Blogger in Safari (or Chrome)

This portion of the article is being written in Safari on the iPad. From an editing perspective, this actually works really well.  That's great!

When it comes down to simple text editing, this would work really well.

 Where are the snags? Well, the only real snag I can find at this point is incorporating images into blog posts.  The beauty of the iPad is being able to simply upload images directly from the camera roll. On the web-based version of Blogger, you can upload images that are in Google Drive and have a URL, but beyond that, you really cannot directly access your camera roll.

You can upload images and video from a URL, however. If students upload their images or videos to Google Drive, and then get the link in Google Drive, they can paste that link into the image uploader in Blogger and get media onto the blog post. Clunky, yes, but it is possible.

The other snag is in scrolling.  Scrolling up and down the page on longer blog posts is difficult on the web-based version. It is possible to use the return/enter key to scroll down to lengthen the post. However, getting back up to the top is frustrating. The only work-around I can find is tapping the HTML tab, then tapping it again.  This seems to take you automatically back to the top of the post for editing at the beginning of the article.  

Another work-around option is to have students type the blog post in Google Docs, and then simply copy and paste into the blog post on Blogger in Safari. This gives you more full editing control with greater ease, but it is a slightly clunky process of copying and pasting. However, not dealing with the frustration of not being able to scroll up and down within the blog might be worth dealing with the slight annoyance.

Pay for Apps

At this time, the only other feasible options out there are apps that require a fee. We are investigating these apps but at this time requiring students to pay for apps is not a recommended next step.