At a staff meeting this week we talked about our “Homework Hotline.” This is a phone feature where teachers record their homework daily for parents to check on in the evening. Among its inconvenient features is that parents have to call back to access different teachers. We quickly agreed this technology was past its prime, and I volunteered to help set up teacher websites that could all be linked to the district site.
So…one week from tomorrow I have one half of an hour to train over 30 teachers to set up and use their own blog (Don’t worry no one expects to complete this in that limited time. It will be an introduction). Maybe half of the teachers have been exposed to or set up some kind of on-line site before. The other half are likely to be a bit intimidated by this and are looking for simple and easy. I created a Google Doc survey to try to determine what the teachers want to do on their site. Most teachers do not check their e-mail on weekends, let alone a holiday so I hope to get most responses on Tuesday.
My thoughts are to show them my blog, class blog, and class wiki along with a few other teacher/school blogs so they can see some possibilities. In particular, I want to show them how I am using Google Calendar as my lesson plan book and embedding it in our class wiki to share with parents and students. I am leaning against a website because it might be too complex. I am also thinking against blogs because I feel like they are more difficult to customize. I think teachers do not really want posts as much as pages divided by their classes.
Therefore I am leaning toward teaching them to use a wiki, in particular Wikispaces. It is simple yet allows them to add almost anything. It is also easy to maintain different pages. The biggest disadvantage that I see is that “the look” of them is simple and not very attractive. But the biggest thing is that they are easy for teachers. Later I can introduce something more complex for those who are interested.
Teachers will be able to choose whatever platform or site that they want, but most will use whatever I show them. So readers what platform would you recommend? Blog, website, or wiki? What site would you use? Remember we are looking for simple use.
I think you are wise to go with simple if everyone has to do it, given the varying openness toward and experience with tech among teachers. I had th is discussion with a few of my staff the other day, especially about static sites v. interactive v. hybrid. I’m afraid it’s too easy to alienate people if we get too sophisticated. Maybe you can up the ante a little each semester or year?
I would encourage you to have your teachers embrace web2.0 technologies like blogs and wikis. Students could subscribe to their assignments via an RSS readers.
Thanks for the positive comments. I agree Suzanne that because of fear, I need to keep it simple. Just like with students, I want them to experience success, not frustration.