Culminating projects can be fun for students. It is the optimal time to allow students a creative channel to showcase their knowledge using a variety of formats. With new web 2.0 tools, final projects can be interesting and innovative while clearly showing whether students have met the intended learning objective.
One of my favorite projects to end or accompany a unit of study is the use of website creation in the classroom. Free, online website templates allow students to easily create web pages that are both organized and professional looking.
Weebly and Wix are free and easy to use website creators. Weebly offers Weebly for Education offering features such as student account management and parent connections. With an extensive library of templates to choose from, students can create a website without requiring any knowledge of html.
The benefits of website design are far-reaching and supports many 21st century learning outcomes(taken from http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework).
- Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
- Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
- Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts
Work Creatively with Others
- Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively
- Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work
- Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas
- View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes
- Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which the innovation will occur
Web design can be implemented across the curriculum:
- Allow students to be become experts in a field and collaboratively create a classroom site on a specific subject. Other classes can use this site for reference purposes.
- Students can create a site to support a cause. Many classrooms have empowered students to become advocates for change. Sites that involve environmental awareness, anti-bullying or literacy campaigns are ideal for elementary aged students.
- Create a themed site on biographies, art, or music.
- For older students, foster the skill of maintaining ongoing content by allowing them to manage your classroom website.
- Students can create a mock business site.
- Websites can be used as online portfolios for students.
Web design tips:
- Ensure students are creating for a specific audience.
- Discuss the importance of content and design
- Discuss the importance of proofreading!
- Discuss creative commons.
Whether you are a web design novice or an experienced master, drag and drop, template based website creators are easy to implement into the classroom and can be an ideal addition to your next unit of study.
Resource sharing has reached new levels for teachers and students. Teaching and learning is now shaped by the collaboration of educators with colleagues and with students. “Another way forward is to learn more about those who have already leaped into the web to teach and to follow the emerging Learning 2.0” (Alexander, 2013, Learning from Learning 2.0 section, para. 1). With so many experts in the field, it is essential to access media, documents, and web links to remain current teaching and learning. Web 2.0 platforms have enabled easy access and increased overall communication. Edmodo is a current leader in social networking for education, allowing teachers to share information and learn from of diverse and specialized online groups. As a user friendly Web 2.0 tool, Edmodo is ideal to effectively and efficiently collaborate with colleagues and students. In the “style” of Facebook, Edmodo allows the user to post media clips, organize links, have online conversations, begin focus groups, and digitally drop assignments.
Edmodo’s ability to reach a wide variety of educators has provided a worldwide data base of colleagues. Learning from those from different parts of the world can offer educators fresh new ideas and perspectives. Many focused groups have emerged through the use of Edmodo. Project based learning, and flipped classrooms are examples of groups that I belong to. My teaching is clearly enriched by my access to media clips, discussions, and links. Over the next school year, I would like to create my own learning group that focuses on one to one computing resources for teachers and students. Using Edmodo to expand my Personal Learning network will give me access to current, innovative resources from educators worldwide.
In addition to web 2.0 tools such as Edmodo, Wikis can assist in the development of a positive online presence. While serving as a powerful communication tool, Wikis focus on the contributor. I created a district Wikispaces page as a result of a technology boot camp. Over the course of the year, district teachers have contributed resources for all core subjects for grade levels k-8. I am in the process of updating for the upcoming school year to provide more tools for successful technology integration. I am looking forward to also gaining resources from the contributions from teachers across the district. Our district wiki has quickly become a multimedia resource that has fostered collaboration between district staff. The Wiki can be found at www.d158tech.wikispaces.com. As I continue to collaborate with colleagues using a Wiki, I would like to expand this project to inviting student contributors. Allowing students to share resources and ideas will give teachers the necessary insight into the learning styles of our 21st century learners.
Alexander, B. (2013). Social Networking in Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/books/tower-and-cloud/social-networking-higher-education.