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Creating an online space for your class

This is the second of the ‘e-learning update’ emails I sent. While it is written for Olchfa staff, it might be useful for someone out there, perhaps to adapt for your school.

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It’s never been easier to create an online space for your class(es) for any of a multitude of reasons. In this email I’m going to run through a (very) quick overview of five. More instructions and support are available if you want them, and you maybe able to use this as a PM target, with the associate inset time that that will attract. With all of these things though, my advice is you is to play with it and see if it works you.

Why bother?

You may wish to create a space to share resources with students, or to remind them of homework, or to set online challenges, or to have somewhere that they can contact you, or somewhere they can submit work, or somewhere they can work together…

It’s well worth thinking about how you’re going to use whatever space you set up first, as this will help you make a more informed choice as to what to use.

 

1. Moodle

What?

Moodle was upgraded over the summer, so it now has a new look and some new features, but the principle remains the same – you create a course that students access using their standard school username and password. Moodle has more features than you can shake a stick at, which is both a strength and a weakness

How?

You can either add resources to an existing course, or I can create a new course for you. To add resources click ‘turn editing on’ (top right) and then click ‘add an activity of resource’. You can add files, links, quizzes, places for students to upload their work… the list goes on.

Tip – Use a folder if you’re sharing a lot of resources, rather than adding each on individually.

Positives? 

Many people are already familiar with it. No new usernames / passwords needed. Feature rich

Negatives?

Can take time to upload resources. Not a lot of choice over how it looks. Many features quite complex

 

2. Edmodo

What?

The first thing anyone says when they see Edmodo is ‘they’ve ripped off Facebook’. It works on the Social Media principle, so the most recent information is always at the top. Hosted externally to school you (and students) will need to create a username and password, although a growing number of students have these as more and more teachers use the platform. You can share work with students, and they can upload work for marking through the system.

How?

Go to olchfa.edmodo.com. Click ‘I’m a teacher’ and create an account. You’ll need to add the school code which is <REMOVED>

You can then create a group, and share that code with students. They sign up and you can start adding resources, reminders, quizzes etc

Tip – Sign up to some of the PD and Support groups available to teachers

Positives? 

Easy to use. App available for iPhone / Android. Several good features, without being overloaded

Negatives? 

Students (and you) need to create an account. Can only upload one file at a time.

 

3. Blogging

What?

There are a number of things you can do with a blog. You could create one as somewhere to post reminders of homework, tasks etc. You could also create specific blogs for particular projects as a way of publishing students work to a wider audience.

How?

A number of staff have already signed up for blogs using blogger, wordpress or similar. You can now have a blog at olchfa.org.uk/blogs/yourbloghere should you want. Email me to have one set up and you’ll be emailed your user details.

Positives? 

Can be easy to set up and maintain. Versatile platform. Growing evidence of positive impact on literacy made by students blogging

Negatives? 

Will need to create an account. Doesn’t easily allow students to submit homework to you. Not as feature rich as Edmodo or Moodle

 

4. Twitter

What?

Great for simple messages, either as reminders of homework or additional learning challenges. It also provides an easy route for students to communicate with you. Both Tom Davies (@olchfapedept) and Dez Hylton (@olchfachemistry) are doing some great things with Twitter already.

How?

Go to twitter.com and create an account. Share the link with students.

Positives? 

Very simple. Many students are already using the service, and those that aren’t can see the messages on the webpage. Good way of developing conversations

Negatives? 

Less features than many of the other platforms. Many students read messages, but seem generally reluctant to engage in conversations at the moment. This may change over time. Currently blocked for students in school

 

5. Facebook

What?

In the past this one may have set the alarm bells rings, but a growing number of schools are making good use of Facebook. The big advantage is that you’re using a space that students already use. Facebook groups and pages allows you to create a safe, middle space that both you and the students can see, without you having to become ‘friends’ with them.

If you do decide to use Facebook, please let me know first. Remember to NEVER accept friend requests from current students. Where possible encourage students to see the Facebook page as an extension of the school, with all the accompanying expectations about behaviour etc.

How?

Create a Facebook group or page. Let students know where to find it and encourage them to join the group or ‘like’ the page. They will then get updates sent to their timelines, and be able to add comments and questions to the wall. Which you choose will depend on how open or closed you want your space to be. Groups allow you better control over who is a part of your group, pages are open to more people.

Positives? 

A space where the students already are. Good for engaging students in conversations

Negatives? 

Fairly limited features. Not currently available for students in school

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Let me know how I can support you in getting any of these up and running for you and your classes. If it sounds like you’re after something specific than none of these do, let me know and we can look at some other options.

Have a great (rest of the) week.

Dave Stacey

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