Thursday, March 13, 2014

Does Your Classroom Have an Online Hub?

Whenever I'm asked for a "first step" for teachers who want to start integrating web-based tools into their classrooms is to create a blog or website to serve as an online hub of activity. That online hub can be the jumping-off point for all of the web-based activities that you want your students to do.

Rather than shortening every link with Goo.gl or Bitly then asking your students to enter into their web browsers, just tell them to go to the classroom blog where you've posted the links for that day's activities. Relatively quickly your students will learn that if they're doing a web-based activity in your classroom, they just need to go to the class blog to get the links and directions. Over the course of a semester this will save you a ton of time as your students won't be struggling to enter new URLs at the start of every class period.

Another use of your classroom blog as an online hub is to embed activities directly into it. For example, I embed Padlet walls into blogs rather than trying to get everyone to enter Padlet URLs into their browsers. And, of course, if you have a video that you want students to watch and discuss putting it into a blog instead of having everyone enter a YouTube URL is a great way to get everyone to watch and comment on the video.