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I am a teacher with a blog and a website to communicate important information (schedules, concert dates, helpful websites, etc) with parents and students. I'd like to create another platform to connect with parents and share pictures, videos, and audio files of the students performing. I need it to be invitation-only or sign-in required so the parents feel comfortable with the files being on the internet. My website is a Google Sites, but I really hate formatting on Google Sites and Wikispaces. It's a nightmare and I can never make things look the way I want them to.

Any suggestions?

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So self hosted websites are out of the question since you are using google sites? –  phwd Oct 1 '10 at 0:20
    
I just need to be sure that the only way people can access the site or blog or whatever is by signing in and being invited or accepted by me. –  Amanda Oct 1 '10 at 0:25
    
Inline with @phwd to translate the question for you: Are you looking for services that already exist or is it also possible for you to have it installed on your own server somewhere? –  Robert Koritnik Oct 5 '10 at 18:30

5 Answers 5

Tumblr looks like it may fit your need, though I am not personally a user.

http://www.tumblr.com/about

Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everything, from colors, to your theme's HTML."

http://staff.tumblr.com/post/267925870/now-testing-password-protected-blogs-it-just-got

When you create a new blog, you’ll see a new option to make it “password protected”. Share this password with the people you want to see your posts, and lock out everyone else. Have fun!

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Google or Yahoo Groups may be a solution. You can limit who can join and it provides for having downloadable items. Each school year you could fairly easily kick everyone out.

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This might be a bit of a stretch if you're not a fan of installing and messing around with hosting your own site but my best suggestion would be to use Moodle. It's specifically designed for Teachers & Students, it will allow students and parents to upload, communicate, and get information on a invitation-only and with logins only.

Get it at http://moodle.org/ You'll need to host it, and it won't be the hardest thing to do but it might require you to read up on a few documentation pages on moodle's site.

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Posterous and Wordpress.com both allow you to set your entire blog or individual posts to private (password protected).

The ability to set individual posts as private is a nice feature because it would allow you to create posts for individual students and give the password only to their families.

Tumblr also allows you to create a private blog as well (as well as private posts as mentioned by Dan Roberts), but you have to create it as "another blog" linked to your primary Tumblr account blog. (The end result is a blog with an address like myprivateblog.tumblr.com, but it's just a bit harder to set up and figure out.)

The downside to Wordpress.com is that they "sometimes display discreet advertisements on your blog." You can turn these off, but for ~$30 per year. Also if you set the entire blog to private you can only create up to 35 accounts for free. You can remove the limit for another ~$30 per year.

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If you want to connect with only one parent, you can use for collaborative pair-blog:

http://lovelogger.com/about.php

Thanks

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