eSkills course | M3 Writing for the Web


Hello and welcome back to Module Three of
this “Digital skills in your classroom” eLearning course. Module Three is all about
how to create digital resources and digital content. In this particular topic, we’re
going to be having a little look at how we might write digital content for the Web. So,
when we’re talking about writing things for the Web, we’re going to try and split
this intro two categories. The first category is going to be around online discussion and
the second category is going to be around web publishing. We’ll revisit publishing
later on in this unit as well. The important thing about an effective online discussion
is to make sure that it’s got some effective structure. One of the things we’ve come
to realize over the years is that young people across Europe actually aren’t very good
at learning online in a structured formal way. Giving them exposure to tools which can
help them learn is really really important and online discussion tools is just one part
of this. Just like an offline discussion, a good online discussion is going to need
an effective prompt, some sort of preparation, some sort of practice, particularly if you’re
using a new technology, and also effective facilitation. Facilitation might be from a
peer but it might also be from the teacher. Online discussions bring lots and lots of
benefit. They benefit the people that watch, they benefit from the people that watch and
think, and of course, they also benefit the people who also think and contribute to the
discussion. And that’s really what we’re trying to get our students to do: watch the
discussion, think about the discussion, contribute to the discussion. As a teacher, it’s important
that we try and make sure that as we facilitate the discussion, they take part in all three
things. If we’re going to develop online discussions in our classroom, one good bit
of advice might be to actually create some kind of community guidelines. The best community
guidelines are created by the students themselves. Perhaps using a collaborate document. We’ll
talk more about this in the next unit. There’s lots of different types of online discussion
as well. They can take the form of a back-channel, an online discussion forum, or even an open
conversation using a hashtag. We’ll have a look at some of these things in a bit more
detail. Neat Chat is quite a good way to actually develop a quick discussion forum. It’s free
to use and you basically just send a quick URL to other people you want to participate.
It will save the discussion for a number of days after it’s happened, so people that
were absent from class can go back and have a look at what other people thought and talked
about. A famous quote from Hybrid Pedagogy says though: “The discussion forum is dead;
Long live the discussion.” What does this mean? Well, it means, of course, that although
there are still places for discussion forums such as the one we’ve got in this eLearning
lab, it means that there are lots of other ways we can have a group-based discussion
these days. Twitter is a good example of this. This is an example of a public discussion
and a conversation is quite often linked with hashtags. We are using #eLearningCourse for
our hashtag for this course but there are lots of other hashtags we can use for our
own professional developments or also to link classrooms. For example, #SLTchat, Senior
Leadership chat is a leadership discussion that happens across Europe most Tuesday evenings.
There are other tools as well that can be used for what we described as back channeling.
A back channeling is a conversation which goes in the background that’s talking about
the main learning task. There’s tools like Scribbler and TodaysMeet that we can use to
assist with these. Both of these tools are really really effective but again, it’s
important to make sure that technology doesn’t become a distraction. Let’s have a quick
[chat] now about online publishing. The power of online publishing is in the audience. Audience
is a really important thing for a school. Schools and classrooms need to be built with
audience in mind. This is a great school, Monkseaton High School in North East of England,
which is built all around audience in a high-tech technology-rich environment. It’s important
that we remember that we learn by telling stories and that could include both physical
stories and also digital stories. So, what sorts of things might we use to tell a story?
Or to publish online? It could be a website. Perhaps in the form of an ePortfolio. Maybe
using something like Google Sites. It could be a website in the form of a wiki. For example,
MediaWiki or perhaps Wikipedia. It could be a website to tell a story. For example, Weebly
or Wix.com, both free tools with paid features where you can quickly develop your own websites.
It could be a website in the form of a blog, such as Blogspot.com or WordPress.org. Or
it might even be something like an eBook. ZooBust is a great eBook creator, particularly
for early years and early primary school educators. So, what are the key principles of publishing?
Whichever platform you decide to use, it’s important that you remember you’ve got a
purpose. What’s the purpose of the work? It’s important to think about who is the
work intended for. It’s not just going to be for the student or the teacher. It’s
important that we think about what features of the specific tool did the students and
teachers use. And also, what application was useful and how you might improve on that or
use different application next time. Remember, this is about audience and giving students
audience for their work. It’s not all about digital. It’s all about the audience. This
is a picture I took in Iceland last summer. It was a primary school that was shut for
the summer and the teacher there had done a very very clever thing by taking the work
off the walls and putting it the other way around so as people walked past the building,
they could see the students’ work. What a simple and powerful way to give audience
to work which otherwise would not have had. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the questions
and challenges in that module. Go away and have a play with some of the tools that we’ve
talked about there, whether it’s starting to create your own website or thinking about
how you might use hashtags, back channels or discussions in your classroom. See you
in the next video.

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