Sunday, November 16, 2014

Developing Classroom Web Sites for 21st Century Learning

Lennifer Tingen, Lauren Philbeck, and Lori B. Holcombo, (Winter 2011) Developing Classroom Web Sites for 21st Century Learning. ProQuest Education Journals, 47, 2; pg 88-90

Article Review

“Classroom Web sites have the potential to support and enhance student learning by targeting 21st century skills, such as collaboration among teachers, students, parents, and other teachers, media literacy, and interpersonal and self-directional skills, as well as thinking and problem-solving skills” (88).   Teachers are setting up classroom web site to engage students in their own learning and preparing students in ways that they maybe using technology in the future.   The article on Developing Classroom Web Sites for 21st Century Learning by Jennifer Tingen, Lauren Philbeck, and Lori B. Holcomb is an examination on how 100 teachers set-up their own classroom web sites throughout a 5 year time period.  There were some different requirements that the teachers needed to have to be in the 100-teachers website study.  The article looked at how classroom websites could have a positive impact on students learning.  Lastly, were there any websites  in this study that met the requirement for the students in the 21st century skills?

For teachers to be involved in the study, they needed to meet the three requirements.  The first requirement is that the website needed to be developed by a K-12 educator with a currently active site for more then 5 years.  The second requirement is that teachers needed to display the core elements.  The core elements are classroom overview, parent’s page, link to homework, and daily schedule.  The third thing on the classroom website was that it needed to contain three instructional activities.  Teachers classroom websites were reviewed over a 5 year time period to see how they are performing and improving the website. 

Classroom websites can have a positive impact on student learning if developed correctly. When students are working on classroom project having a website allows for students to collaborative with everyone involved.  If students are in need of some assistance it allows for students to have easy access to communicate with their teacher for help.  Websites are another tool to keep students engaged on course material or allow for future practice on skills learned throughout the day. Students show ownership by posting their work on the website for parents to see what they are doing in the classroom.  When teachers include web tools such as blogs, vokis, and podcasts it engages students on the course material. Websites can have a positive impact on students if established correctly.   

When classroom websites were reviewed, they checked to see if they were aligned with the 21st century skills and how educators can support 21st century skills within their classroom websites.  As the study examined the classroom websites they noticed that elementary websites are better at engaging students then upper grade levels.  However, only 25 out of 100 were meeting the exemplary classroom websites.  Most websites failed in meeting requirements for the study.  Two main factors in why websites failed was due to the fact the teachers were self taught on setting up their classroom websites.  Finding information on the website was difficult to locate especially in assignment submission.  The sites they used to display and layout their websites limited their access usage.  Districts ended up purchasing web-editing software, which helped teachers. Even talking with other teachers creating their own site, they still needed more support.  Second reason was that their website did not align with the 21st century goals and objective.  Teachers spent a lot of time keeping up with posting new items and the design but lacked the ability to enhance the learning beyond the classroom.      

“Websites can have a positive impact on students learning if they are aligned with 21st century skills and usage of web tools they can enhance communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking” (90).

Check the rubric below from the article to see how your own website is aligning up. 

Sample Tools/Resources
21st Century Skill
1. Use and integrate web 2.0 tools that support collaboration and interaction both within and outside of the classroom
Google Docs, Wikis, Blogs, Etherpad, Webspiration, communityWalk
Learning and Innovation Skills: Communication and Collaboration
2. Provide a venue for students to display coursework and projects.
Jing, VoiceThread, Prezi
Life and Career Skills
3. Support creativity and active learning through authentic academic experiences.
Fizz, Icue, Google Maps, ToonDoo
Learning and Innovation Skills
4. Engage students with the real world data, tools, and experts they will encounter in college, on the job, and life.
National archives online database, Microsoft office (word, excel, PowerPoint, letterpop)
Learning and Innovation Skills: Critical thinking and problem solving
5. Model ethical practices, especially as they relate to digital literacy.
Diigo, Trailfire, Great Book Stories
Information Media and Technology Skills


Making a website is something I have considered.  When I student taught, a coworker did monthly newsletters to be attached to the grade level classroom newsletter and I thought what a great idea to develop for the parents to see what is going on in the physical education setting.  Now that technology makes websites easier to develop that idea seems more obtainable.  By reading this article it provided me with more direction than I had considered to make sure my website includes to make my website fit the requirements for a 21st Century learner according to this author.

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