Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Choosing An Online Class Hub: An Introduction

What's the best host for an online class presence?
Let's see... there are free website hosts such as Google Sites, SchoolRack, WeeblyWhatfolioWix,  Zoho, and a bunch more.
Or you could decide that a blog is the best means to share your classroom content. Then you could go with blogger, posterous, wordpress, edublog, or tumblr.
Then there are course management systems such as Moodle, Schoology, and Edu 2.0.
Finally, there is Edmodo. It's not a course management system or a webpage. It's a fake social networking site modeled after facebook.

What To Choose?

So how do you decide which way to go? You probably have to define your purpose first. And that not only depends on your personal preference but your grade level too. Elementary teachers have different purposes for an online presence than middle and high school teachers. There's less need for standardization since students don't typically visit multiple core teachers in elementary.
For me, my objectives of an online class presence are as follows:

1) Parents should see the class website as an intuitive and easy place to find, retrieve, and review information on class events and learning.
2) Students should want to come to the virtual space to explore on their own.
3) Parents should want to come to the virtual space to explore on their own.
4) The online space should be extension of the classroom where we can come together to discuss ideas, offer and seek help, and expand our understanding.

Right away, because of my first objective, I can ignore blogs (and wikis) as a legitimate online classroom option. That's not to say they don't have a purpose in the classroom, they are just an inadequate online hub for the classroom. That cuts down my choices a bit. I'm still not able to review all the options that are left, but I have tried a few different things, so I would like to relay my experience. In the next several posts I will review, rage, and rave against (and occasionally towards) Google Sites, Edmodo, Weebly, Wix, and Moodle in an effort to find the best fit for my objectives listed above.

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