This week we were asked to evaluate a piece of educational media. I decided I would look at Weebly for Education because my students used this tool for a novel study and they were able to provide some sound feedback. Weebly for Education is a blogging website where students can create their own personalized page that is monitored by the teacher from the main Weebly hub.
- Appeals to students: Any time that students have the opportunity to use technology in the classroom, they are happy about it. I used Weebly as an alternate way for students to do their novel study. All of their vocabulary, comprehension questions, chapter summaries, reflections etc were done online, rather than paper and pen. The fact that students could make the page their own seemed to encourage them to get to the computer lab or iPad carts and start working on the assignment for the day.
- Homework checks: Another positive is being able to complete live homework checks (whenever you have the time). There was no more walking around the classroom, checking binders, waiting for students to find their papers etc. It was right in front of me all of the time. The ‘time edited’ option was also very helpful so I could see the last time that student had logged in and worked on their page.
- Missed assignments: One of the more convenient parts of having a classroom blog was that students could access assignments and daily work even if they missed class. They were always held accountable because they had access to the page from home or even on their phone if they were on the go. Some students liked this, some hated it, I loved it!
- Parent involvement: I always like for parents to see what is going on in the classroom. This was an easy way for parents to stay connected and know what their child was doing in class.
- Password protected: Each page is protected with a password so that only I can access the page. Students were not required to comment on each others blogs or to check in on pages. This was an easy way for me to know that students were doing their OWN work and not simply copy and pasting answers onto the blog.
- Grammar: Yes, you would think that because they are in an English Language Arts class that students would be extra careful of grammatical errors. This was not quite the case. I had to revisit grammar numerous times throughout the unit because I was getting sentences like “HP is so dope cuz he is a wizard n stuff”. Though it made me laugh, this is not what I was looking for.
- Problems saving: I had many emails from parents and students because they worked on the blog but it would refuse to save. I also had this issue a couple times and it was not related to the computer connection. In that case, students would copy and paste their work into a word document and either hand it in that way or try the next day.
- Time consuming: Would I have gotten further in the novel study had I stayed in the classroom? Yes. The amount of time we lost with making our way to the library, starting up the computers, logging in etc was quite abundant and I found that students were spending a lot more time at home working than at school. As the teacher, even though I loved being able to do homework checks whenever I wanted, it took plenty of time to do so. By the time I clicked and went through 28 students pages, a couple hours had gone by.
Overall, I would definitely continue to use Weebly for Education as a learning experience for my students. Although it has its flaws, I think students enjoy showing their work in a different format and it is worth the time and effort to try something new. This was definitely a learning curve for me and I would do things differently the second time around to make my life, and the students lives, much easier.