I'm interested to know what experiences you all have had in trying to integrate the web into your classrooms. Do you have a web page? If you did would students go to it for resources or extra help? If you like the idea of having a web page but don't have one what is holding you back?

Tags: educators, page, teachers, web, website

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I use a little of both, my own hosted, and what my school offers. I use a blogger powered blog with my classes that I send to my own host:

http://mrmoses.org/blog/ag

I did that a few years back so that I didn't have to violate the TOS to get rid of the blogger navigation bar at the top. My students could follow that back to the root of the site, but I don't have anything there that 1) They don't already know about and 2) they want to read about.

Next year, though, I am moving the URL to my school's address. Not for any particular reason, but my school is getting little more familiar with blogs I think it'll be nice for it to have a school address.

Having my own host (first Yahoo! then aplus, btw) has come in handy, for example the year that I was developing curriculum for a school district and they wouldn't let me test-fire the sites on their host to working with individual clients in developing their websites and curriculum.
Is it common for teachers in your district to have their own web pages or to put class content up online for students?

Do you ever get irritated by how much extra work you have to do to update your website? I just went to your site. I actually like it a lot. It looks well integrated into your class and the regular "staying on track" posts look motivational. Do your students go to it often? About what percentage of your class do you think follow it? Are parents aware of it?

Jared
Thanks. It's a bit of work, but for me it just part of teaching. I don't get a lot of comments from the student. I think that there's two reasons for this. One is the blogger engine forces students to have a blogger account to post (well, unless you set the comments to anonymous). The other is the catchpa requirement, it makes posting a comment a pain. As for how many students visit, well, I think that some do. It's just another form of communication. I plan on getting more students involved next year by inviting them to post. I want to get a group together to follow the primaries, a group for current events, etc.

As a charter school, we are a school district of one k-12 school. Each class has it's own site, beacuse we're an online school There are four or five teachers that I know have their own sites. I think that I'm the only one that uses it with a class though. I'm not sure if parents are using it to help students stay on track.

How about you? Are you hosting or going with what the school offers?
Maybe I'll work up a javascript tracking program for you to put on your blog so you can see who is coming to your site and how often. You'll need it to propagate on all your pages. It will end up being an includes (invisible) that you'll put in the site title, if blogger lets you do that. I'm not sure when I'll have time to get that done. If you're interested send me a message.

I'm in the professional sector. I've been communicating with teachers about their needs and tools they can use for their classrooms. I come from a specific company that has an interest in providing free simple web tools for educators. if you're interested in my sites you can check out:
http://www.oratiobrevis.com/ -- International Educators Collaborative Registration (nonprofit side project)
or
http://christonium.com/Jared/ -- a sort of blog for Internet technology and Educators
The company I'm associated with is http://christonium.com/.
Jared
I'm interested to know what you've found out about best practices so far. I'm not an educator so I'm very interested in you perspective on this. Also, what goals have you set for your website? What needs do you think it fits? In what ways do you hope it benefits your students?
Jared,

I do have a website for my students. In addition, I have a class blogmeister blog set up. I use both for different reasons. My website is where I post information about assignments, projects, resources and announcements. The blog is where my students post articles and share their writing with one another, their parents and other interested parties. It is a piece I introduced to help widen the audience for my students' writing. I teach sixth grade language arts and work as technology instructional lead teacher for the school. When you go to my website now, it is in transition. I've taken things off of it from last school year and haven't put the new things on yet for this coming school year.

All of our teachers are required to maintain a website with at least minimal information updated. Some teachers do a better job of that than others. We use sharepoint at our school for the class sites; however, we are having some security struggles right now with our servers and the new version of sharepoint. Our head technical people are trying to figure that out. Once that is in place we will have features like surveys and discussion boards available as well as online submission of work for students. Until then, we continue to look for ways to increase the functionality and collaborative qualities of what we have to work with.

Here's my site address: http://tiger.greateratlantachristian.org/sites/dir/jh/josteen/defau...
You'll see a link on the right side of the page to my class blog.
Julia,

Wow. You're really doing a lot with the Internet and technology. How do your students take to it? What is parental feedback about it like? I've actually got a rather long response to this, and your websites, that I want to write up, but I'll send it as a private message. I'm really impressed by all the work and effort you've put into this and I'd actually like to start a dialog about what kind of results you get from students and what techniques you have found most effective to improve students in your classroom by use of the web. Perhaps you can digress on that a little for the benefit of this forum.
My students are not accustomed to having these tools available. I find myself needing to train them to look for and use the tools I've made available. However, I expect that as time goes on that should get better. To this point, I haven't had a counter of any kind to know how much the site is actually being used. I put a counter on it just last week so I hope to gain some good information from that.

The blog is something that is required in my class. At the beginning, I send home a letter for each parent to sign saying they understand about the use of the blog and its purpose in our class. I work with students a lot to make sure they don't put any information on the blogs that would be too personal or identifying. Unfortunately, this has also made the blog "un-owned" by my students. I have been working this summer to find a way to create more opportunities for the students to make the blogs their own without providing too much information out on the web. I've come upon some ideas with avatars and images that might help with this.

I had students this past year who just loved the blogs and couldn't wait to do the next post or comment on someone else's and I had students who just didn't have the blog on their radar much at all. I did see students who started out struggling to understand the blog and how it worked become very confident and comfortable with it at the end.

The more time we would take for the blog in class, the more excited I saw my students get. Some of their blog work had to be done at home or before or after school in our media center computer lab. That was when the delineation occurred between those who loved using the blog and those who didn't.

As I look at their writing from the beginning of the year to the end, I see tremendous growth. To me, that's the true measure. Did a sense of audience beyond the teacher serve to increase quality of writing? My answer to that is yes, it did.
This is a really great response. I think you hit on all my questions really well and provided insightful responses. It's fascinating that the students who take off with their blogs are the ones how have access to a computer and the Internet at home. I look at current education initiatives like One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) and think that provides a lot of hope for the future. It makes me wonder why OLPC isn't planned to be implemented in more developed countries. I'm a professional in web technologies and I know for a fact that the laptops OLPC is providing to children can also fit all my personal computing needs - with a little hacking here and there. I could even turn one into a web server, or network them into a Beowulf cluster (supercomputer).

The availability of the hardware seems unbelievably important to the adoption of modern technology in education; a couple hours a week in the computer lab just doesn't cut it. I think your post clearly illustrates this. I wouldn't be surprised if in ten years Massachusetts and Maine (they have adopted OLPC) are producing the most gifted and generally capable technology related students in the country. Even Rawanda may fast forward past many States if similar educational programs are not initiated soon. Then again, it all really depends on how well the technology is implemented.
I have a teacher web page, and I love it. The platform is provided by the district, and every teacher in my district technically has a web page, but most of the teachers I know don't take advantage of it. Those I've talked to think it's time consuming. Learning how to use the website was time consuming (not nearly as easy to use as a blog or wiki), and I admit that I stay late on Fridays to update it for the following week. In all honesty, however, having the website has greatly reduced the number of phone calls I receive from parents. At this point in time, I think that it evolved as a time saver for me.

Not all of my students use my website, though you can see by the hit counter that it is frequently visited.
I think you hit the nail on the head. These tools take up a lot more time than they really need to. Why spend time on HTML and CSS. Why take material down when you're just going to end up putting it back up again. These complexities and time consumers can easily be solved by good program engineering, but in current web applications they are not. Teachers need better well known tools that are freely available. I agree that a website can save a lot of time, but it can also eat away a lot of time. I think the complexity is a major deterrent for a lot of teachers.

I really should work up a simple site tracking program for teachers here. It's hard to get good information about who is visiting a site using hit counters. On any given day you might get between 1 and a couple hundred hits from crawlers (search engines) and good tracking tools can tell you a lot about what's going on with your site; for example, IP addresses can be used to determine if the hit is local, from a crawler, of from google search result. I use yahoo for hosting on my side projects and their hit counter is unbelievably inaccurate. You may have a lot more or a lot fewer hits than your counter is telling you.
I would love to be able to install a site tracking program, but the sad reality is that my district wouldn't allow me to install one. While I can create pages, upload images, add links, the program doesn't grant me access to the HTML where I can install codes. For whatever reason, the district has deemed it necessary to be in control of these sorts of things. This has prompted the rebel within me to put together a wiki that I can link to my website, but I'm only in the early stages of that project.

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