When elementary teacher Matt Hardy had trouble finding a blogging solution to meet the needs of his 3rd grade Eden Prairie class, he decided to create it himself. Two years in the making, this U of M Computer Science graduate has taken Kidblog.org from WordPress install to a highly customized kid friendly publishing system specifically for K-8 educators and their students.
“Based on my six years of experience in the learning environment, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t” says Mr. Hardy describing the development process and simple user interface that allows students and teachers to focus in on content creation.
Designed to enhance literacy and communications skills through authentic voice, Kidblog.org has experienced tremendous gains as of late. Within the past five months, 90,000 student accounts have been activated and the site now receives over 200,000 unique visits per month. “Minnesota, and the Midwest in general, has been very open and appreciative of what we’re doing” says Mr. Hardy describing Kidblog.org’s organic growth through a network of educators on Twitter, professional blogs, trade publications, and education technology conferences.
While KidBlog.org is much more than just a side project for both Mr. Hardy and partner Dan Flies, neither anticipate leaving their respective careers to pursue Kidblog.org full time just yet. For the time being, Kidblog.org is a completely free service and does not generate revenue; since ad models aren’t appropriate for the audience, other options are being explored, which include private label/licensing.
As a teacher himself, Mr. Hardy knows the financial constraints and budget restrictions that limit financial investment to only the most essential products and services. “In the tech crowd, blogs and the whole idea of blogging isn’t exactly cutting edge…but from a teacher’s perspective, this is still a pretty big revelation! We are confident that Kidblog.org is a valuable service that districts and teachers will deem vital within their classrooms.”
Matt Hardy can be reached through MHardy at kidblog dot org.