The first thing you need to know about usernames in WordPress is that WordPress uses them in the URL for your profile, for example: http://creativeblogs.net/author/username
Note that this only applies to certain themes that display profiles, but nevertheless it means that for e-safety reasons you should never use children’s surnames as part of their username. There is an argument with which I have some sympathy that goes beyond this and says that you should only use nicknames for usernames, and Pete Yeomans of Plymouth University wrote a very interesting blogpost on this subject that is well worth reading (as are the comments). That being said, I believe that the risks presented to children using their first names is so small that it seems reasonable to me to proceed along this basis. My own experience of using nicknames on a class blog wasn’t a happy one and I was forever getting confused as to who the authors actually were.
Here is a suggestion that seems to work well for most people:
The number represents the cohort (year of entry or exit), followed by the first name and the first initial of the surname. If you had two James S in your cohort add 1 and 2 to the end of their usernames and so on, i.e. 12jamess1 and 12jamess2. Put the numbers at the front of the name so that when you are looking at your whole list of users they will be grouped in their cohorts.
A Word About Passwords
I like to choose a theme for a password such as trees, fruit, animals etc. The great thing about setting the passwords manually as you set up the users is that you can differentiate passwords according to ability. So Eleanor might be comfortable spelling “sycamore” while Luke might be better with “oak”. With younger ones, say Year 1 and Early Years you could always use the same password for the whole class if you were happy to give them individual logins. The Easy Blogging plugin that we use prevents children from viewing their profile so that they are not able to change their passwords themselves (hence the need to keep a record of passwords).
Clearly, the examples given are very simple passwords and you can make yours as complex as you like. What you must do is impress on the children that password security is an important issue on a live blog and they should not be sharing passwords among their mates.
For Keystage 2 classes all children should have individual passwords. I use the following methodology:
Year 3: a themed word (differentiated) elm, oak, chestnut etc.
Year 4: a themed word plus a 2 digit number elm27, oak42, chestnut19
Year 5: as above but with a capital letter Elm27, Oak42, Chestnut19
Year 6: as year 5 but with punctuation Elm!27, Oak!42, Chestnut!19
Because the “Add New Users” plugin allows users to be created without sending an email there is no need to use a real email address. What you must do is use an address that is in a valid format. I suggest that you use a combination of the child’s username and the school’s blog domain so you end up with something like:
I teach the children to use this when commenting on posts on their own school blog, too.
You should end up with a spreadsheet that looks something like this:
Types of User
When creating users WordPress allows you to create a number of different types of user from blog administrators down to lowly subcribers. Each type has a different set of privileges on your blog (described in detail here). For the most part, teachers will want to moderate children’s blog posts before they go live so the level to choose is that of “Contributor“. If creating users of a different type, be sure to understand the implications of that before proceeding.