ICE Conference 2011 Handout Poster Session – Teacher Websites: What Works, What Doesn’t, What to Do? About: David Chan Technology Integration Specialist Evanston Township High School
Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blog: www.chanatown.net Twitter: @chanatown Links: http://tinyurl.com/ice2011chan3
Summary: I decided to visit each of the 108 ETHS teacher websites to look for trends, patterns, and commonalities that can provide a framework for what works, what doesn’t, and what to do in terms of creating a classroom webpage. This handout contains key points and excerpts from both a presentation and an eGuide. For more information, please contact me through the above links. What Works Content Is King Handouts and Documents Calendars Homework Solutions Learning Centers Interaction Links and Resources Transparency
What Doesn’t Work Empty Site Syndrome Challenging Navigation It’s The First Day, Everyday Hard To Use
What To Do
What’s In It For Me? How Can I Realistically Keep It Up? Can I Enjoy It Too? Can I Collaborate? Can I Borrow?
Determine Platform Locate Templates Set Goals Get Started Have Fun
Excerpts: Content Is King As anyone who writes for a blog or has read about search engine optimization can tell you, content is what drives traffic to a website, and a classroom webpage is no different. If students do not have a reason to visit a teacher’s webpage, then it doesn’t matter how well organized or how pretty it looks. For example, Mr. Wilburn’s SharePoint homepage screams content from the minute you visit with a “Quote of the Week” in the announcements and pictures from a recent health fair. Similarly, on Mr. Meier’s Google site, cleverly titled “Meiology”, we find clearly labeled tabs in the top link bar that feature important links or additional pages that either satisfy a student’s search or invites him or her to further explore a topic in Biology.
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ICE Conference 2011 Handout Poster Session – Teacher Websites: What Works, What Doesn’t, What to Do? Empty Site Syndrome When meeting with teachers creating a classroom website for the first time, I try to make sure that they leave feeling comfortable handling the workload for whatever goals they set for their page. However, with all the time and effort it takes to plan a class, let alone teach and grade student work, it is understandable that maintaining a website falls down the priority list as a result. What ends up happening is a blank site sits on the web, the “under construction” label is applied, and students have no reason to bookmark or access the page when there is no content available. What’s In it For Me? One of the earliest lessons I learned when regarding teacher websites was that I became motivated to maintain a site if there was a strong enough reason for me to do so. My initial goal was to design a simple place to store resources and make them accessible to students. However, the ultimate goal was to organize my curriculum so that I could reflect on my teaching and continue to evaluate and improve on my practice from year to year. I recommend that teachers begin with a plan for their own website, and determine how they will benefit from the setup. As we see on Mr. Brady’s page, this first year Chemistry teacher has taken a few simple elements (daily agenda, handouts, calendar, expectations, and links) and has leveraged the embedding features of Google Apps to produce an organized, effective, and useful webpage. Determine Platform As stated above, we are currently offering teachers the choice of SharePoint or Google Sites when creating a new website. I believe we are fortunate to offer both options, but I also recognize the lack of cohesion that exists when you have multiple platforms. In schools where only one or possibly no option is supported, platform choice isn’t a concern, though it should be noted that many free options including Google Sites, Weebly, eduBlogs and WikiSpaces are fully supported and abundant on the web. For more tips, links, screenshots, and examples, please view the eGuide available through my blog: www.chanatown.net. Page | 2
ICE 2011 Poster Handout