Chapter 5, Part 2

This is a continuation of the fifth chapter in Techniques for Effective Technlogy Integration. You may want to start with Part 1.

Maintaining a Web Presence

There is one key thing every teacher can do to help promote good communication to students and others. In fact, many students have come to expect it. Maintaining a web presence can be a vitally important communicative tool. Maintaining a web presence can be as simple as having a simple class website. It can be more involved, having a class Twitter account, a class Facebook fan page, an online class, class blogs, and more. The simplest way to maintain a web presence is just to have a static class website that you can post updates to. If it is not already expected as part of your duty in your district, there is a good chance that it will be next few years.

An administration simply expecting you to complete something does not necessarily mean that it is worthwhile or effective practice. So, let’s look at some of the simple ways that a class website can help you to communicate messages to students, parents, and other educators.

  • Post your syllabus, letters to parents, and other information you want available throughout the year on a dedicated page. While it is easy to get angry with students for losing papers, the reality is that it is not productive. There is value in teaching organizational skills. It is helpful to both students and yourself to have a copy of any important papers online; students cannot lose them and both students and parents have access to them at all times.
  • Post a recap at the end of each day of what happened. This will allow the students to stay informed and keep up even if they are absent. It also helps parents stay involved and up to date on what is going on.
  • Post any and all assignments online. Students are absent; students have to miss class for a myriad of reasons; students forget to write down assignments or lose handouts. If we can easily give students access to the assignments, the question becomes about whether we want to help them learn the content or punish them academically for poor organizational skills.
  • Post copies of the class notes and resources for further learning. Students who are interested can learn more about a topic. Students who are struggling can use the notes and resources for remediation. It can be even more helpful at times to have students write the class notes; oftentimes, they can write explanations in another way that is more accessible to other students than the teacher’s.
  • Post copies of class expectations, assessment practices, and any other relevant information online.
  • Give students an authentic audience by publishing their work online.
  • Have contact information displayed prominently so that students and parents can get in touch with you if they need to.
  • Post periodic announcements about important events, such as field trips, projects, etc… Students do not always remember to bring notes home, so this is an easy way to reach out to parents and guardians. Their support is essential to help students reach their potential.

The above list will likely have two divergent effects depending on one’s comfort with technology. What may be impressed upon some people is how they can enable student learning through communication. What will stick with others is that it seems like it would require a prohibitive amount of time when teachers are already grossly overworked.

As with all things, with practice come speed and efficiency. Once you start using a class website, though, you will realize that it does not take much practice to gain mastery of the basic parts of maintaining a class websites; namely, posting regular updates. The part that takes the most time for many is choosing a design and color scheme that they like. If you find yourself struggling with the technical aspects, it may be wise to ask a student who you know to be skilled and trustworthy to be in charge of the website. The student could handle posting things for you and showing you how to do it yourself. It is great for students’ self-esteem when they can teach their teacher something. It could also help buy-in to using the class website when they have a hand in designing or maintaining it.

The other important aspect of implementing a class website is developing routines, both in yourself and in your students. If you consistently reinforce to students that they should check the website for assignments and then regularly forget to post those assignments, students will become disillusioned and stop checking it altogether. Similarly, students may continue asking you what the previous day’s assignment was even after you tell them that it is on the class website. Help the student, of course, but reinforce that the he can find the assignment himself at any time on the website. This takes consistent reinforcement to both the whole class and to individuals. The more you reinforce and consistently update the website yourself, the less students will need to come to you and the more independent they will become in their learning.

1 comment to Chapter 5, Part 2

  • This is another great blog about communication in your classroom. It seems like this would be a lot of work to keep it up, but as you stated toward the end of the blog, once it becomes routine it will become easier. A class website or blog will be a great asset to any classroom. Your pointers of what to put on the class blog were also very helpful. Thank you!

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