“Going Digital”continued from page 25
As September nears and I plan the work for the year ahead, I am approaching the year asking myself the following questions and taking the time to research websites thoroughly to ensure that my students will have the best chance possible to share their work with the audience that inspires them. Maybe these thoughts will be of help to anyone else out there who is thinking about going digital.
• How will my students’ work be saved as we move through the year? Will we use our district’s network space or thumbdrives? Do we have enough network space for each child? If so, can our network be accessed from home so that students can continue their work? If we use thumbdrives for each student, who will manage the logistics of them? And who will pay for them?
Will file types that we create with our tools: digital cameras, flip video, voice recorders, software etc. work with the websites that can reach our audience? Will we need to plan on converting file types to make things cohesive? Do we have the ability to do so?
If we are working in group situations, will the group project be saved to each student’s individual network space or thumbdrive, or will we save just one original file? If we create only one finished product file, can copies of it be easily made so that everyone in the group has the published piece?
Does the website we are considering offer cloud-based saving and editing? If so how much space is available per student or project?
Does the website offer classroom accounts/and or individual student accounts that are easily set up and accessible for the students? Does a student need to have an email account in order to have a website account? If students have individual accounts can they access one another’s accounts without the other students knowing?
Do I, as the teacher, have the ability to access and review the students’ work easily? Is there an area set up for correspondence or collaboration in some manner within the website space for me as their teacher to guide them?
• Is the website’s interface easy for students to navigate? Are there advertisements on the website? Are they appropriate for students to view? How long has the website been up and running? Is it stable? Do they have an educator’s version?
What is the cost, if any, involved in the website use? Can the free version, if one is available, handle the file types that our project requires so that the published version is satisfying? If the free version is not adequate, are upgrades offered and at what cost? Is it a one-time cost or an annual fee?
When we reach the publishing stage of our project within the website we chose, can we download a copy of our final
product or does the website hold the only completed file?
This is a lot to think about and each school year is sure to bring even more website choices than the last with more questions to be answered; but I will diligently sort through the old, the new, and the newly improved, answering the questions above as I go, always with the intention of answering to the standard so clearly set by my very own students… “But who will see it when I’m done?”
Deborah Lawrence is the Discovery Classroom Teacher for students in Young 5s through 5th grade at Schoolcraft Community Schools. It will be her 2nd year in this position as well as the 2nd year for this technology program that incorporates writing and 21st Century skills. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
MACULJOURNAL | Winter 2011-12
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