My original intent was to create and find a district approved platform for either my class website/communication or for my students to create a digital portfolio. In my Earth Science class, my students currently create a paper portfolio, but I wanted to take it to the next level. Since there are two approved sites for our school, X2 and Richer Picture, the options are limited. After thinking about this, and communicating with our professor, I decided to create a rubric to assess different technologies that are available to determine which will best serve the needs of mys students and me.
I made list of things that I would like in class website. The list includes, type of site, ability to email or message students, ability to make private (if needed by district or wanted), user friendly and intuitive to set up and use, ability to attach lessons and links, ability for students to submit work, grading capabilities, district approved, discussion board, ability to allow other teachers to view. These are all things that I have found to be helpful as I try to find the best platform for my classroom.
I looked at the following sites: Blog sites including Weebly, WordPress, Google Blogger, Google Sites, Google +, Richer Picture, Haiku, Engrade, Moodle, Edmodo, X2 by Aspen, Wikispaces.
I created many accounts, and spent a lot time playing at the different sites, some to no avail as they were cumbersome to navigate without training. I was definitely on user id and password overload keeping all the accounts straight! After looking at these sites, setting up accounts, and playing with each, I found that the two school approved sites, Richer Picture & X2 do not have all the capabilities that I would like, and /or are note very easy to navigate without training.
The blog sites are similar, and offer great communication capabilities, but to use a blog site as a class website is rather cumbersome, and it does not allow for grading.
The class management sites all have grading capabilities, which is important for me. Moodle has many capabilities, but is not that user friendly without any training. There is one teacher at the school who is Moodle certified, and has offered to help me, but again, to start anew during the school year, is difficult given the demands of teaching. I have heard a lot of “buzz” about Edmodo, but did not find that it would be worth the learning curve to switch from my current system to Edmodo.
The best sites in my opinion, after playing and analyzing the sites are the class management sites such as Engrade, Haiku, and Wikispaces. All allow for grading, and student and or class communication. All three are fairly easy to navigate & intuitive to set up. Granted, they take time to set up they way a teacher would like, but I think that any of these three would be a a good choice. I like that both Haiku & Wikispaces allow for students to post work for peers to see and comment on, that is not available with Engrade.
Another ides would be to tie Blogger, Google sites & Google + together, but this does not offer a grading function. These three are easy to use, students could share via blogger, comment on G+ or on Blogger. Class discussions could be set up on G+. I think that I will use G+ at some point, with my students, but need to first determine the needs first.
I am currently using Engrade, this is my first year, that I have gone beyond the grading functions, and am starting to use some of the other functions, such as creating and posting lessons on line, and using the calendar function. I may trip to include links for “flipped lessons” as well. There are also several teachers at our school using Engrade, mostly for the grading function, but some are moving beyond grades. My students like having the ability to go on line and see their grades, or check the calendar for the days were absent. I have decided to stay with Engrade, as I did not have the time during the school year to switch to a new platform, but am considering changing to either Haiku or Wikispaces for next year, assuming I have time to play with it over the summer months. If not, I will continue to find ways to use Engrade to create a more engaging classroom experience for my students.
This was interesting in that it forced me to look at many different sites, and determine which would work best for my needs. There are so many options available, but sometimes, simple is best!
I chose the following AECT standards…
2.3 Computer-Based Technologies because this required a computer to create the documents, and analyze the sites.
3.1 Media Utilization because this required analyzing different sites to make informed decision on implementing in class.
5.1 Problem Analysis because I needed to determine the problem and parameters before moving forward with analysis.
5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation because this required gathering information, and using it to make an informed decision.