We can likely agree that many of our students enjoy social media, watching Youtube videos, using smartphones and ‘surfing’ the Internet. Why not leverage their interest in digital media to enhance their authentic learning experience within your subject? Students can make their own websites and apps for school; it’s fun, free and easier than ever to accomplish. You don’t need to be an expert computer programmer to create websites and apps!
The best way to get this started in your own classroom?
Simply add website or app creation as an alternative option to traditional Word or PowerPoint assessment tasks. You may be surprised by the students that might want to try these options. It is also interesting to see which students may resist this option; the top 2 reasons I have encountered are:
- they don’t like taking risks (some high performing students may resist a new option if they can’t see easy guaranteed success)
- teenage girls are commonly socialised to assume that ‘tech is for boys’ – this is changing slowly!
WEBSITE CREATION: Using Edublogs (or WordPress) requires no programming skills
- I have created three How-To videos to help you get started (link will be made available during the presentation)
- This website is an example of a WordPress blog website – I blog occasionally and create sub-pages of presentations when I want to reflect on my teaching experiences, document examples of my work and to share my resources. I have been using this website for 7 years.
- My old teaching website is an example of an Edublogs website used as a teaching tool with an underlying social connectedness teaching strategy
- Check out this page for resources, research and student website examples based on this strategy: https://elketeaches.wordpress.com/qsite/
APP CREATION: Thunkable is exciting and creative
- Thunkable is cross-platform and allows easy & quick live-testing on phones & iPads
- Students create their apps using drag-drop programming on the Thunkable website (can be done on iPad but not efficient)
- Students test their apps using the Thunkable app downloaded on their phones or iPads
- A Google (gmail) account is required to log-in to the Thunkable website and start creating apps – it is important to understand that this is what allows the Thunkable app on your phone to effortlessly receive & run the app you created on the website. The Google account is simply for accessing your Thunkable created apps on both the computer and your phone.
- an article explaining some of the history of Thunkable – Democratizing app development, MIT News http://news.mit.edu/2019/thunkable-app-inventor-0116
- Students create their own apps from scratch or they can remix already existing apps. This is a powerful ability! You can find a public Thunkable app created by someone else and remix it with your own information and images; therefore, it is possible to create your own app without having to code at all. Wow!
- It is easy for students to share their Thunkable app projects to their friends and you. Once you have a copy of the project, you simply click on “Live Test” and then open the Thunkable app on your phone to view your students app. More Wow! (this is exciting because of how easy and efficient it is to create and share apps now)
- There are 7 tutorials, complete with video demonstrations, embedded in the Thunkable development environment (left-side of screen below)