Tool Review: Posterous Spaces

Our school has always required that teachers maintain websites as a tool for communicating with both parents and students.  For most teachers, “maintaining websites” means housing updates and classroom resources in Blackboard — a popular service that our district has been using for years.

I ditched Blackboard last year, though, for about a thousand disgruntled reasons.  I decided to use Posterous — a site that I’m admittedly tech-crushing on right now — for my classroom website.

Here’s three reasons why I think YOU should use Posterous for classroom websites, too:

You can post directly to your website from your email inbox.

If you’re anything like me, you’re flippin’ buried under email for half of your planning period, right?

That makes getting content posted to your website difficult simply because you have to remember to go to a completely different site with a completely different password and sign in whenever you actually want to make a post.

By the time you’re done deleting, responding, forwarding and cursing your way through your inbox, what are the chances that you’re REALLY going to want to head somewhere different to post content on the web?

Right. Darn close to zero.

That’s one of the reasons I like Posterous so much.

I’ve got a unique email address for my site.  All I have to do to post is open a new email and send it to the right address.  Posterous converts the subject line of the email into the title of a new post.  The message body becomes the content for the new post.

For me, posting from my email inbox simply saves time.  I’m there already.  I don’t have to navigate anywhere or play frustrating password guessing games.  For tech-hesitant teachers, posting from email inboxes makes updating websites a HECK of a lot more approachable because there’s nothing new to learn.

#thatmatters

 

Parents can receive updates any way that they want ’em.

After spending the better part of the past decade as a Blackboard junkie, one lesson became painfully clear – the VAST majority of my parents weren’t even bothering to look at the content I was posting.

The reason was simple: THEY were too busy deleting, responding, forwarding and cursing their way through inboxes to go and check a separate site for content, too.

With Posterous, your audience can choose to receive instant email notifications every time you make a post.  Or they choose to receive a daily — or weekly — summary email including links to the new content you’ve posted.

Or they can subscribe to your site using an RSS feed reader — or they can even choose to navigate straight to your site on the Internet if they want to.

Want numerical proof that this kind of “consumption flexibility” matters?  As of right now, 52 (out of 120) of the families that I serve are signed up for email updates.  More convincingly, my posts are averaging 150-200 views EACH.

That means moms are looking at my content.  Then, they’re forwarding it to dads who are forwarding it to kids.  Sometimes dads look first and forward to moms who forward to kids.  I’ll bet grandmas even see my content too.

The point is simple, y’all: When you give people choices over how they can consume the content that you’re creating, they’ll actually READ what you are writing!

#ifyoubuildit

 

You can easily embed ANYTHING in a Posterous blog post.

For me, the real value in a class website has more to do with sharing content with kids than it does sharing content with parents.

Sure, I want mom and dad to know that there’s a field trip on Friday. But it’s WAY more important that Johnny can easily find new copies of the 17 handouts that he’s lost in the bottom of his backpack.

On Blackboard, uploading content was an INCREDIBLY cumbersome process.  The last I checked, it took something like six different clicks to actually get a document into my website — and I could only add ’em one at a time.

When I want to upload content to Posterous, I just add attachments to the email messages that I’m sending to my site.  Through the magic of Posterousness, the content is AUTOMATICALLY embedded — and made downloadable — in a new post.

It works GREAT for documents — here’s a handout that I uploaded earlier this week — but what’s REALLY groovy is that it works GREAT for audio and video content too.  Look at how an audio recording that I made is embedded WITH a player in this post.

Both the document and the audio file started their Posterous lives as email attachments, y’all.  I didn’t have to go to another service and upload the content first.  I didn’t have to figure out where embeddable text was hidden.  I didn’t have to copy and paste computer code into an HTML editor.

I just had to send an email to the right address with the right attachments.

#easysqueazylemonpeasy

No joke: If you’re looking for a ridiculously easy tool that can save you time and hassle all while helping to ensure that your parents actually read the content that you are posting on your classroom website, Posterous rules.

It’s so good I’d even PAY to use it.

#loveitTHATmuch

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11 thoughts on “Tool Review: Posterous Spaces

  1. start a wordpress website

    WordPress has really made website creation very simple and easy task, I used the themes and working with wordpress templates is very interesting. Thanks for sharing the informative post about other options available too.

  2. Bill Ferriter

    Online Homeschooler wrote:
    Im not sure how the community works but there were a few posts
    immediately suggested to me all of which I reported as inappropriate.
    Im not sure how they work either, Online Homeschooler. The community features arent anything that interest me. I pretty much use Posterous as a classroom blog and a classroom blog only — and because you have to navigate to a completely different location to get to the social spaces, I dont worry too much about them.
    And youre right: The site does work a lot like posting to Blogger and WordPress from email. The difference, I think, is that attachments are automatically embedded in new posts. Im not sure that happens on Blogger or WordPress — but I could be wrong.
    Hope this makes sense,
    Bill

  3. Gregkulowiec

    Don’t forget another fantastic classroom application, a collaborative Posterous blog. Anyone can post to the blog by emailing to the blog’s email (substitute the .posterous for an @posterous). Great way to collaborate across classrooms as well.

  4. Online Homeschooler

    Bill, I immediately shot over and tried the Preposerous site. Few thoughts as to how a homeschool group leader might use it (we have many of the same problems as classroom teachers only, of course, we don’t get new students each year, any vacations, and the pay scale is really low):
    http://homeschoolcurriculumonline.posterous.com/
    1. Its a slick blogging-like platform. I’d compare it more with blogger and wordpress than anything else.
    2. I’m not sure how the community works but there were a few posts immediately suggested to me all of which I reported as inappropriate. Don’t know if I’m being prissy but they were all sleezy and sexual although not pornographic. But not things that I want my kids to see a lot of.

  5. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Rob,
    Good seeing you in this space — and thanks a TON for your feedback!
    I had a sense based on the traffic that runs through our team website that Posterous was making a difference, but to hear it first hand from you is a great affirmation. I need to whip together a survey for parents to really drill down to the different ways parents are using our site.
    You might also be jazzed to know that I’m working on a mobile app for the Gnomes site. I’m hoping that giving people access to our content on their mobile devices will encourage even more communication.
    Anyway — rock on.
    Bill

  6. Bill Ferriter

    No joke, Karen and Renee: Posterous is a great tool that is definitely worth exploring if youre Karen and fighting for if youre Renee.
    It eliminates the common barriers for publishing that keep teachers from updating their websites and the common barriers for consumption that keeps parents from actually reading the content that we post.
    If thats not a win-win, I dont know what is.
    Rock on,
    Bill

  7. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Richie,
    Thanks for stopping by — and more importantly, thanks for a tool that makes my life easier!
    My only regret is that you dont have a subscription option that I could afford — or a donate now button on your website. Id scratch together some cabbage to support you guys only because I dont want to see you go the way of the dinosaur. Youre a service Im hoping to use for a long time and for a ton of different reasons.
    Rock right on,
    Bill

  8. TeachMoore

    Totally with you on the tediousness of Blackboard. Unfortunately, I’ve got a policy block to moving my course or students to an “unauthorized” social media site (but I’m about to go to work on that!). Thanks for the alternative.

  9. Rob McCormick

    Bill – as a parent of an SMS 6th grader, you and your SMS team are doing a fantastic job with posterous updates.
    I consume updates via RSS and truly appreciate them. Here’s hoping your 7th and 8th grade colleagues are on the posterous train.

  10. Karen janowski

    You’ve convinced me.
    I’ve been searching for a reason to explore Posterous after reading many glowing tweets about it. This post finally convinced me it’s time to dive in.
    Thank you for the embedded links which made the case.

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