Teachers' Guide to A Networked Classroom

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February 5, 2014
Creating a networked classroom is a prerequisite for meeting the learning needs of today's students. In fact, one of the reasons why many students find school boring is because they feel it is different from their real life, the life they live outside the four walls of classroom and where they get interact with their digital media and connect with peers worldwide.

In their wonderful book "Using The Power of Personal Learning Networks to Transform Education", Will and Bob highlight the importance of creating a connected classroom where students use and interact with the digital means they use outside school. The authors outlined 5 methods for using classrooms as networked learning spaces :
  1. Connect students and teachers inside the classroom
  2.  Publish student and teacher work locally and globally
  3.  Connect students and teachers outside the classroom
  4. Connect with experts around the world
  5.  Collaborate with others to create and share knowledge
Drawing on these five methods, I came up with a list of important web tools teachers can use with their students to create a networked classroom. Check them out below.

Tools for sharing pictures:

1- Flickr

Flickr is one of the best websites out there for students to share their images and photos. Flickr also provides users with a "shared folder" option that students can use to store and share relevant pictures.

2- Photobucket

This is another powerful photo hosting website to use with students.

3- Instagram

Instagram is a great tool that students can use to share their photos and pictures. It also allows them to take a photo or video, cutomize and edit it then share it with others.

4- SmugMug

SmugMug makes it easy to safely store, and share your photos online.

5- Picassa

Picassa is Google's free photo sharing platform. Picassa is integrated with all your Google's tools and automatically finds and saves all pictures from your computer.

Tools for sharing videos

1- YouTube

This is the most popular website for hosting and sharing videos. You can create a YouTube channel for your classroom and invite students to share videos. However, if YouTube is blocked in your school then try out the other platforms below.

2- Teacher Tube

Teacher Tube is another great website to use with your students for publishing videos. The service is free and is very easy to use.

3- Vimeo

This is another great video sharing website that students can use to store, discover and share their learning experiences.

Tools for sharing slides, files, and documents :

1- Issuu

Issuu allows you to upload your documents and slides in different formats. It also provides you with a library where you can organize all your uploads and share them with others.

2- Google Drive

Teachers can create a shared folder in Google Drive and invite students to use that folder for storing and sharing classroom materials.

3- Dropbox

Dropbox provides a limited free hosting capacity for you to use to save classroom documents, PDFs, and slides. It also provides yo with a download link to share with others .

4- SlideShare

This is my favourite platform for sharing and hosting slides. Slideshare allows you to upload your slides and PowerPoints and share them with the world via email, social media platforms, or embed codes.

5- Box

This is another platform I have been using lately for storing my documents. Box lets you store all of your content online, so you can access, manage and share it from anywhere. Integrate Box with Google Apps and Salesforce and access Box on mobile devices.

 Tools for creating blogs :

1- Blogger


 I have been using blogger  for five years  now and I highly recommend it for teachers. Blogger is a free Google service which provides users with a simple and easy to use blogging interface. Users can choose from a wide variety of templates and with just drag and drop functionality, one can set up and run the blog in few clicks.

2- Wordpress


This is another power platform for setting up a class blog. Similar to blogger, Wordpress is also easy to use and is free for basic versions. There are several guides and video tutorials on its help page that will help you through the process of setting up your blog.

3- Kidblog


Kidblog is designed for K-12 teachers who want to provide each student with an individual blog. Students publish posts and participate in academic discussions.

4- Edublog

The World's most popular education blogging service. Edublogs lets you easily create; manage student and teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos and  podcasts - it's safe, easy and secure so try out .

5- Glogster Edu

Glogster Edu empowers educators and students with the technology to create GLOGS - online multimedia posters - with text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments and more.

Tools for creating and sharing screencasts :

1- Screenomatic

This is an online tool for one-click recording for free. Screenomatic is integrted with major video hosting websites like YouTube and Vimeo allowing you to upload your screencasts to these services with one click. The pro version of this tool has far more interesting features.

2- Screenr

Screenr is a web-based screen recorder that lets you easily create and share your web screencasts. Just click on the record button, capture your screen and voice and share the link.

Tools for creating video conferences and online hangouts:

1- Google Plus hangout

This is a wonderful service for creating online video conferences with students. And though the number of participants in each hangout is limited, You can still streamline your live hangout on YouTube for the rest to watch .

2- Skype

Skype offers a service called group video conferencing for just $9 a month and which allow you to hold video conferences with anyone anywhere. These video conferences can also be recorded and shared on Youtube channel of your class.

3- Ustream

Ustream is a website that allows members to broadcast live streaming video on the Internet. " Members can broadcast directly from the Ustream website or from a mobile device using Ustream's mobile broadcasting app (available for Android and iPad). Ustream members can also record and save videos for future broadcast distribution."

Tools for Creating Classroom Pinboards

1- Pinterest


Pinterest is a free web tool that you can use to visually curate web content. You can create as many boards as you want and you can also join other's boards and start a collaborative pinning experience. Pinterest has a handy bookmarklet that you can drag to the bookmarks toolbar and with one click you will be able to add anything you come across.

2- Educlipper


Some call it the new Pinterest for educators, Educlipper is really a great and promising website where teachers get to curate and organize digital content. Educlipper has been designed specifically for educators and by an educator ( Adam Bellow: founder ). The process of setting up your Educlipper account is pretty easy and can be done in a few clicks and once logged in you can instantly start adding content .

3- Padlet


Padlet, formerly known as Wallwisher, is a web tool that provides you with an empty wall or canvas where you get to add your digital content. This content can be anything you want and the good thing about this tool is that it lets you now download the contents of your walls as PDFs, images, Excel, or CSV files.

4- Scoop.it

Scoop.it is another powerful web tool for curating digital content. Similar to Pinterest, Scoop.it allows you to create as many boards as you want and you can either share them with the public or make them private. It also has a handy bookmarklet to use for instant Scooping.

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