Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why should I have a web presence for my classroom?

I believe teachers, principals, and administrators should have a "web presence" - a place on the web where you put information for your district patrons, fellow staff members, or students. Some of you may be asking, "Why?" or thinking, "If only I had time!" Ed Tech Specialist Denise Hogan explains the importance:

"In a world where people can bank, order groceries, shop for a home, instant messenger friends around the world, and see exhibits from the Louvre online - I can understand why parents are coming to expect more information about their child's progress online. Even more importantly, our students live in an ever growing 'cyber-based world.'  The rich, interactive and authentic web sites that are out there, make us, as teachers, criminal if we don't get our students on them in meaningful ways."

When designing a web site, you must consider your audience. For a teacher, the audience will mostly likely be students and parents. For a principal, it will most likely be parents. For a counselor, it may be graduating seniors. The list goes on. Secondly, what will you put on your page? The idea is to publish information in a way that helps your day to day tasks. As a teacher, publishing your daily assingments on a web site eliminates the student excuse that they didn’t realize it was due (even though you had it written on the board for the last two weeks). Some parents have no idea an assignment was due, and that you assigned it two weeks ago.  

A teacher web page can also carry valuable information about instruction for students. I personally know of teachers who use SMARTBoards, Mimios, and eInstruction software (Clickers) to save information to pdf's from their whiteboards and link that to their web sites, especially in the area of math. These teachers can post on their sites not only lesson plans and assignments that are due, but also problems that were worked out together in class. If a student goes home and struggles with the homework, he or she can go to that teacher's web site and find the class notes from the day.

From a parent perspective, it would be great to know what my kids are doing in school. Yes, I can get their grades from PowerSchool, and yes, I can - and do - talk to them about what they are doing in school, but from a day to day point of view, I have little knowledge about what they are studying. If a web page was created for the class or classes they are taking, I could not only track their progress, but I could be more involved in what they are learning and ask them more specific questions. Young parents especially are used to referencing web pages. Before families move into your district, one of the first things they will do is look at your school web site. If teachers have a link from the district’s web page, parents can easily find information about your classroom.

Ultimately, as the web editor of your site, you will need to decide what to post on your page.  At the ESU, we have Manila that we use to host teacher-created web pages.  Some schools subscribe to a web site service like SOCS and allow each teacher space for a personal web page.  If you would rather create one on your own, there are services like Wordpress, Blogger, and Google sites that can easily get you up and running without much difficulty.

Here are some wonderful teacher-created web pages from teachers in our service area:



J Allen said...

I agree that the outside web services such as Google Sites, Blogger, etc., that you listed are easy to use, but we try to limit their use as much as possible. Simply - I can't control that website. And when a teacher leaves, I can't shut it down. Too many times there are old websites that never get updated and no one has the password or software to do so anymore. We use iShare, maintained through ESU 3. We still use Google Sites and Wikispaces for student work, which I suppose could end up with the same issues.

Gregg Robke said...

Josh -

Isn't that the responsibility of the teacher once he/she leaves the district to monitor their site or blog. It shouldn't be up to you to "control" it, should it?

J Allen said...

It should be... :)