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How Would You Share Student Work Online?

2010 November 28
by SSedro

We had the great good fortune to have Alan November at our school for two days. One thing he said we should implement right away was an archive of student work to help teachers see what can be done.

I have been planning on setting something like that up since school started.  I wanted it for the following purposes.

  • A place to share student work with families, other classes and each other.
  • A place for students to receive feedback from an outside audience.
  • An archive to help students see what has been done in the past — they usually rise above the bar set by previous classes.
  • A repository of examples so that as teachers plan the year with us, we can “show” them what other classes have done.
  • A record of our tech integration growth. It won’t capture all our growth. Rather, it is one of many tools used for that purpose.

boy taking photograph

My first questions is format. We have Wikispaces.net, Edublogs, Blogger and Google Sites as school supported options so my first decision is blog or wiki?  I am least interested in Blogger and Google Sites due to the space limitations on our school Google Apps accounts.  I don’t think students will usually be the ones adding projects to the site since neither platform allows multiple people to work on the same page at the same time.  Can you do that with Google Sites as you can with Google Apps? If so, that could be very useful. In any case, I am leaning towards Edublogs because it has so many attractive themes. Our Wikispaces.net account has a very vanilla theme. It goes well with our corporate website, but it isn’t a look that I think will appeal to children.

Whichever I choose, I am uncertain how to organize it.  Based on my list of goals above, would you organize it purely chronologically? By grade level?  By type of project? By subject area?  Having so many goals make it challenging to choose.  As I look back over those goals, I think they are already listed in orders of importance.

If I use a blog, then the most current projects would be what you saw as you visited the site which is handy for parents and students.  This would also create an automatic chronological archive in the sidebar, making it good to show our school’s growth over time.  That is good. Will that still work if I have multiple pages?  For example, I could have different pages for different types of media.  However, when I’ve seen teachers add pages to their site, those pages are like a single entry blog post. If they want to add to it, it is all still the same post.  That is less desirable.  I would like each new project added to be posts.  That would more elegantly allow for comments on each group of projects.  Anyone know how to make Edublogs do this?

Maybe, I only have one page but use categories. I can have categories  by year, grade level, subject, and type of project.  With those categories listed in the sidebar, it would be easy to click on the grade 3 category and view work that way, click on math and see tech integration in math, or click on Bitstrips and view all the ways we used Bitstrips across the curriculum.

There are of course, student privacy concerns.  However we take those into account when we create any project that may appear online.

As you can tell, these are preliminary thoughts. Does your school have anything like this? What platform do you use? Any words of advice as I embark on this project? I’d appreciate hearing them.

Photo Credit: Oh the Irony by JP-Flanigan used with permission under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
6 Responses
  1. November 28, 2010

    I use a wiki for student projects (Wikispaces), but I listened to an interesting K12 Online Presentation about using Voicethread for this type of application. You might want to listen to Chrissy Hellyer’s presentation.

  2. November 28, 2010

    Each student has a blog, and a page on our class wiki. Pretty much anything thing they do is eventually posted on one or the other. The wiki is for longer term, longer in length pieces, rough drafts, etc…the blog is where shorter pieces and things like videos will be posted.

  3. SSedro permalink*
    December 4, 2010

    Thank you for sharing that. I love that students have access to both platforms. I am currently working on a wiki project with a grade 4 class. Even after four days using it, they still forget and both partners will try to edit the same page at the same time.

  4. January 8, 2011

    Personally, I really like blogs for student eportfolios, sharing the learning, etc. I used to use wikispaces, but it required too much user-created navigation – reordering the pages on the sidebar, etc. I love how blogs have tags and categories that automatically can organize themselves.

    The set-up at YIS and ISB are very similar. Basically we have one portal page that leads you to a main blog for each division, teachers are linked on the divisional blogs & students are linked from teacher blogs. One thing that YIS has that we didn’t have at ISB (probably because of the size difference) is one page on each division for all of the student blogs organized by graduation year. I love that page. It makes a big difference for both parents and teachers to be able to find all of the student blogs in one place – and it makes sense to find them on the division blog.

    Right now I’m trying to figure out how to make those pages look prettier, because now it’s just a list of usernames. I like the idea of using Netvibes and making a tab for each graduation year, but the management of students coming and going all the time, so I’m not sure it’s the perfect option… yet.

    I think in general, your best option is to allow each teacher to have their own blog using Edublogs Campus (unless you have someone that can manage a WPMU at school). It’s easy to manage all those blogs and link them to one central blog and that gives teachers lots of control over what they want their blog to look like – they can show their personality and have ownership. Then you can use tags and categories in a standard way to make sure all the posts (for each project) show up exactly where you want them to.

  5. Michael permalink
    January 21, 2012

    What about student protection? By posting their work as online content have you decided on how your are going to protect the student?

    We are struggling with the same issue at my school and our main concern is student protection. We are having our students share their own working using Google Sites (through Google Apps) but needed to find a way to protect their identity.

    We live in a community that likes to talk and gossip and compare, unfortunately, and needed to find a way to prevent that from happening with our students.

    With Google Sites, we decided that for now, the sites will not be made public. The student can take the address home and share with their family but emphasis that it must only be shared with family and not just passed around freely. We are also assigning students secret numbers and attaching their number to their work instead of names, when teachers post work to their classroom blogs.

  6. SSedro permalink*
    March 17, 2012

    It’s an important question. Protecting students on one side, and helping them build a positive digital footprint on the other. Currently we only allow their first names on their work and we don’t identify them in photos. We hope to move towards eportfolios to help them build a positive, appropriate presence online.

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