Sunday, December 22, 2013

Helping Teachers Place Their Materials Online: Phase 1-Instructional Strategies & Introduction To Tools


Most teachers when thinking about how to organize their existing content into a web based format play with a variety of tools and resources such Wiki's, Edmodo or other District Based Learning Management Systems. When stuck in between these resources and still looking to have a web based presence for the classroom that offers the look of a teacher website a great option is a blog which can present presentations, links, documents and even a variety of assessments. Many districts have their own policies for teacher websites and access so it is important to check with your district about their policies before beginning and committing to any projects.

This post will include some of the central considerations to consider from an instructional design perspective and also some of the central considerations when choosing to integrate the Google Blogger platform and the associated Google docs and tools. That said, a variety go blog platforms exist and some are extremely interactive (Wordpress, Weebly, Tumblr, Typepad).  I have chosen on this post to focus on Google Blogger due to my success with integrating the tools in the classroom and also the ease in which I can explain its immediate benefits.

Planning-Instructional Design Considerations


Before creating your blogger account and Gmail for the creation of a blogger blog it is important to collect all of the content you would like to have on each section of your blog. I often encourage teachers to organize their blogs as though it will be their website for their classroom in which each course they teach will have its own page and be the focus of that area of the blog. A site map should be developed which helps organize the thinking of the content. This site map can be done formally on paper or can be outlined and integrated immediately. In the example photos below the breakdown of an AP European History course is shown. 

This teacher(photo) has identified specific presentations (PowerPoint’s) and documents (Word) which she will link of this course homepage. I have worked with this teacher to turn these documents into Google Documents for the ease of backing them up on the Google Drive Cloud and linking and sharing opportunities with students. Teachers can also integrate existing PDF's teachers may have been printing in an online format or even turn documents into PDF's.


The process of aligning your course sequence of materials and preparing them to placed on a web based platform can be tedious but it can benefit teachers to back up their documents online and improve the fluency in which they deliver materials online. The process of creating links and sequencing material also enables teachers to reconsider the order in which they present materials and can also allow them to better introduce web-based assessments using tools like Google Form, Socrative or linking to Edmodo environments. Teachers can also begin to consider the integration of screencasts of video lectures for homework or students who have missed courses. The graphic on the left was created using http://www.gliffy.com. This site enables you to create sitemaps and organization graphics.


Discuss Teacher Strategies, Goals & Motivation


From an instructional technologists perspective it is important to have deep conversations with teachers about the intentions they have with their content online. Web platforms can quickly turn off teachers transitioning to creating more online resources. They often feel they do not deliver their materials in way their students or are used to.


Provide support as teachers delve into placing materials online. This support is critical to having teachers see the long-term benefits of web based resources and flipped classroom models. Integrating these tools consistently is a process and fluency with technology in the classroom only grows as it is being used regularly and fitting the environment intended. There will be setbacks in the process but assuring teachers that the time invested can save them time as the forward can help motivate and inspire them to create for the web.

Also assure teachers that providing web-based content does not mean they are replacing traditional instructional methods. In the beginning of this process the tools placed online should be tiered toward supporting instruction and can be used from once a week to daily depending on the comfort level with the tools and resources.

Key Tools & Tips To Consider In the Development of Blogger Blogs For Teachers

(I will be updating this page with new posts in the coming weeks with more specifics on each of these topics. I have included some sample links).
  • Organize all content for each course in a folder and review the order of instruction and course assessments and goals.(Consider creating graphic like the one above. I used Gliffy.com)
  • Set Up A Page For Each Course (This provides a separate space for each course and a way of differentiating for each class.)
  • Create A Google Calendar To Share Course Information (The same calendar in your Google email can be embedded into your blog and used to post course updates)
  • Use Of Google Drive for Storage (Using Drive can streamline linking of resources and also create an immediate backup)
  • Use Google Groups For Collaboration (An easy method for communicating with specific groups based on email address)
  • Use Google Hangouts For Offline meetings (live and recorded collaboration online with video, great for college students and adult professional development)
  • Use YouTube for videos of lectures, videos and supplemental course videos and embed them into the areas of the blog pages with HTML (Screen casting is a powerful tool for sharing screen recordings with presentations or web based instruction).