Creating a digital presence for your class is now a required pedagogical investment to help you boost your teaching and enhance students learning. Now that the world is going digital, having a virtual space where you and your students create, discuss, and share learning resources can do wonders to your teaching.
A classroom website is much more than a mere portal to your classroom, it is a learning hub where students unleash their creative thinking, connect learning to their own individual experiences, and develop strong digital and multimedia literacies while working towards becoming better digital citizens.
How to use a classroom website in your teaching?
Using a classroom website in your teaching can greatly enhance the learning experience for your students, as well as streamline your workflow as a teacher. Here are some ways to incorporate a classroom website into your teaching:
1. Organize and share resources
Use the website to host course materials such as syllabi, lecture notes, presentations, videos, and reading lists. This will provide students with easy access to all the resources they need to succeed in your class.
2. Announcements and updates
Post important announcements, updates, and reminders about upcoming events, due dates, or changes to the course schedule. This will help keep students informed and engaged.
3. Homework and assignments
Assign and collect homework, projects, and other assignments through the website. You can also provide feedback and grades online, making the submission and grading process more efficient.
4. Online quizzes and assessments
Create online quizzes and assessments to evaluate student understanding and progress. These can be graded automatically, saving you time and providing immediate feedback for students.
5. Discussion forums
Set up discussion boards where students can ask questions, collaborate, and discuss course topics. This promotes active learning and encourages students to engage with the material and their peers.
6. Collaborative projects
Use the website to facilitate group projects and collaborations. Students can work together on shared documents, presentations, or other assignments, making it easier for them to collaborate and communicate.
7. Showcase student work
Create a space on the website where students can display their projects, essays, or other creative work. This can inspire other students and foster a sense of pride and accomplishment.
8. Multimedia resources
Incorporate multimedia elements such as videos, podcasts, or interactive activities to enrich the learning experience and appeal to different learning styles.
9. Accessibility and inclusivity
Ensure that your classroom website is accessible to all students, regardless of their abilities or needs. This may include providing transcripts for audio content, image descriptions, or adjustable text size.
10. Communicate with parents
A classroom website can also serve as a communication tool between teachers and parents. You can provide updates on class activities, showcase student work, and share important information about the course.
Remember to keep your website up-to-date, organized, and user-friendly, so students and parents can easily navigate and find the information they need.
Before you set up a digital space for your class, you need to familiarize yourself with the blogging terminology and understand what words such as post, tag, plugin, theme, etc mean. Understanding basic blogging terminology will help teachers make the most of this platform. Here are some key terms to know:
1. Blog: A blog (short for “weblog”) is an online journal or informational website featuring regularly updated entries or posts, usually displayed in reverse chronological order.
2. Blogger: A person who writes and maintains a blog.
3. Post: An individual entry or article published on a blog. Posts can contain text, images, videos, and other media.
4. Comments: Reader feedback and responses to blog posts. Comments allow for interaction and discussion between the blogger and their audience.
5. Tags: Keywords or phrases used to categorize and label blog posts. Tags make it easier for readers to find related content on your blog.
6. Categories: A way to organize blog posts by topic or theme. Categories help readers navigate your blog and find the content they’re interested in.
7. RSS Feed: Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a format used to deliver frequently updated web content, such as blog posts or news articles. Subscribers to an RSS feed receive updates automatically when new content is published.
8. Permalink: A permanent URL or web address for an individual blog post. This makes it easy for readers to share or reference specific posts.
9. Blogroll: A list of links to other blogs or websites, typically displayed in the sidebar of a blog. A blogroll can help you connect with other educators, share resources, and expand your professional network.
10. Widgets: Small applications or tools that can be added to a blog’s sidebar or other areas. Widgets can include features like calendars, social media buttons, or search bars.
11. Template/Theme: A pre-designed layout and style for a blog. Blogging platforms typically offer a variety of templates or themes to choose from, allowing you to customize the appearance of your blog.
12. Plug-ins: Additional software components that can be installed to add functionality to your blog, such as contact forms, image galleries, or spam filters.
13. Content Management System (CMS): A software application used to create, edit, and manage digital content for a blog or website. Examples of popular CMS platforms include WordPress, Blogger, and Joomla.
14. Trackback/Pingback: A notification sent to one blog when another blog links to one of its posts. This helps bloggers track conversations and interactions between blogs.
Understanding these terms will help you navigate the world of blogging and use it effectively as a tool for communication and professional development.
Besides knowing blogging terms, you also need to conceptualize your blogging project within a clearly defined pedagogical framework.
To this end I designed a specific blogging framework made up of five major steps to help you in the processing of using blogs in teaching. Check it out to learn more
Now that you have done the conceptual work, next is the practical phase: search for the right blogging platform for your class.
There are numerous places where you can build your classroom blog/website, however, for some of the best recommendations, check out the list below.
I particularly picked these platforms because, first, they are teacher and student friendly. Second, they are all easy and simple to use and offer a plethora of fully customizable pre-designed templates.
They also support various types of content (e.g., videos, images, text, graphics, ect) and in case down the road you decided to get a custom domain for your class blog, these platform do offer this possibility.
1- Google Sites
Google Sites is Google’s platform for creating websites. Google Sites’ editor is simple and easy to use. No coding or HTML knowledge is required. Google Sites offers a wide variety of ready-made templates to choose from.
Simply browse through the collections of templates there and when you find the template you are interested in click to open and customize it. Alternatively, click on Blank to start building your website from scratch.
The process is as simple as dragging and dropping elements and sections into various parts of your website.
Basically, Google Sites’ editor allows you to add as many pages to your website as you want. Each page acts as a stand-alone hub where you can feature resources and content to share with your readers. You can also add different types of content to your website including images, text, videos, audio, maps. calendars and more.
You can even upload content you have on Google Drive (e.g., spreadsheets, presentations, forms, charts, drawings, etc) right to your website.
One of the great features provided by Google Sites is the ability to invite collaborators to co-edit your site with you.
For instance, you can invite students and assign them different tasks on the site. Some to work on the design and layout, others to upload content, etc. Populating your classroom website can be a great learning opportunity for the whole class.
I have written a detailed guide on how to use Google Sites to create a class website. Check it out to learn more.
Blogger (Blogspot) is Google’s platform for creating blogs. In fact, this very post you are reading right now is created in Blogger. I have been using Blogger for over a decade now and I am very much content with it.
It is true that Blogger does not offer as many features (especially add-ons) as WordPress but still the service is pretty good and has what you need to get your classroom blog set up and running.
Like Google Sites, you can start building your blog on Blogger by browsing through its pre-made templates. There are numerous professionally designed and free templates in itts gallery. You need to spend sometime going through the titles there, experiment with them till you find the one you like.
You also have the choice to get a third party template to install on your blog but this requires that you have at least some functional knowledge of HTML and CSS. Blogger also allows you to give access to collaborators to help you with the design and content of your blog . You can access this feature from the settings of your blog.
When you pick a custom template, use Blogger settings to edit the layout the way you want. You can add sections, widgets, banners, footer, side bars, ect. When your blog’s layout is ready you can then start creating and sharing content on it.
Blogger’ s post editor is simple to use, way simpler than WordPress. You can write your post, add links, insert/upload videos and images, edit your text the way you want (e.g. change font size, text type, ect). When you are done, click on Publish.
To learn more about how to set up a blog using blogger, check out this visual guide.
Wix is one of the popular platforms for creating a class website and blog. Its intuitive editor makes it easy to create and share posts with few clicks.
Wix offers access to several beautiful and professionally designed templates to use for your class website and blog. All of these templates are mobile-responsive, meaning that pages will turn out good when viewed on mobile devices, and are fully customizable. You can drag and drop sections, headers, sidebars, insert images and videos and several other types of multimedia.
You have full control over the look and feel of your Wix website and blog. You can structure your pages the way you want, change backgrounds, add a personal touch, and more.
You can even hire a professional to do the design work for your website. Wix offers a team of dedicated professionals that can help you with your website design.
Before you start building your Wix website or blog make sure you visit their Explore page for inspiration and ideas. Click on Inspiring Websites to view examples of beautiful websites created using Wix editor.
Wix also provides you with analytic reports regarding the traffic and audience of your class website or blog.You will be able to access data about pageviews, sources of traffic to your platform, users demographics, and many more.
WordPress is another great platform where you can create a class website or blog. However, there are two WordPress versions: WordPress.com and WordPress.org and you need to know the difference between the two before you make your decision as to which one to use.
WordPress.com is probably what you need as a teacher to build a class website or blog. It is simple and easy and everything is hosted on the cloud. You only need to pick a theme, customize it, and start producing content.
WordPress.com takes care of technical maintenance, security issues, updates to themes and plugins, backups, and more.
Downsides to WordPress.con is that it offers limited storage space (3GB for free plan) and it runs ads and branding, among others.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, allows you to host your own site. It is a software that you need to download and install in your own web server. You will need at least basic technical knowledge to operate WordPress.org effectively.
Also, with WordPress.org you get to handle all technical issues yourself from ‘site hosting to maintenance’.
In a nutshell, “WordPress.org helps users build a site that’s “organically yours,” as you’re creating, managing, and maintaining everything on your own. WordPress.com helps you build a site in “combination with” the team at WordPress.com as they will support your site’s creation and will be manage and maintain the system for you.”
Edublogs is a teacher and student friendly blogging platform that offers a wide variety of features. Edublogs is especially designed for PreK-12 and educators. The process to set up a blog for your class on Edublogs is easy, you only need a username and email address.
Once registered you can then access your blog dashboard where you can customize the look and feel of your blog and post content.
Edublogs does not allow you to upload your theme, you can only use theirs but you do have full control over customization. You can add headers, footers, widgets, images, background, change text fonts, colours, etc. Check out this step by step tutorial to learn more about how to set up a class blog on Edublogs.
One service I like the most about Edublogs is My Class which can be accessed from the dashboard. My Class allows you to create custom student blogs with or without students email addresses.
While students publish content on their blogs you get to control the privacy settings, moderate posts and comments, allowing embed code, and many more. Check out this step by step guide to learn more about how to set up student blogs on Edublogs.
- Free courses on blogging created by educators for educators
- Difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
- Building anything you want with Wix
- The possibilities of students blogging
- Edublogs blogging resources and guides for teachers
- Blogger resources for teachers
- Google Sites resources for teachers
- Wix help center
- WordPress.com resources for teachers