The task of creating a class website can seem daunting. It takes time, creativity and a willingness to keep up with it…and who has the energy? Will your kids even utilize it? Is it worth the effort? All valid questions. To answer these questions I am going to need a bit of help from one of my favorite musicals, Les Miserables. At this point you may be asking yourself, “Really? Edtech and Les Mis?” Yep!
Let’s start with the most important question…why start a class website? I believe the answer is because our students don’t just exist during the class period in which we get the privilege of educating them. At the end of the day, you have empty chairs and empty tables…and what then? Well, in Les Mis a heartbroken Marius reminisces about the life that once inhabited a space that is now empty (see below).
In his case, Marius has seen the failure of his friends as they attempted to revolt against the French government. His words resonate with the memories of only yesterday. Believe it or not, when our classrooms empty of students for the day we see the same thing. Maybe not a French revolution, but we see the end of vocabulary that filled the air, the numbers and letters that danced around the room and the discussions that gave life to cinder block walls. I know, this all sounds like a romantic notion, but it is true. As educators, we bring life to our rooms! This is what we need to capture for our students online…a sense of the uniqueness of our classroom.
Luckily for us, we have access to things like Google sites, WordPress, and Blogger. Creating the space that spans the gap beyond empty chairs and empty tables has never been easier. You don’t have wait for a revolution to begin visualizing how you might want to represent your class in the digital world. What might you highlight? Might you start a blog? Maybe showcase student work? Or even post files for students to access at their leisure from their phone.
In fact, it is possible in Google sites to create a static shell (a template that doesn’t change) that has dynamic aspects to it. Using the “Insert” feature it is possible to give access to a folder in Google Drive for anyone who accesses your website. This means you can simply drop files into a Google Drive folder and they will show up on your website.
Revolution can happen slowly, and it is time for us as educators to embrace the reality that we need to offer our class experience beyond the real world and into the digital world. Do you hear the students sing? It is the song of …..well check it out below.
All drama aside, it is time to start a technological revolution. Let’s stand on our digital chairs and show the world how great our classroom experience really is. As Victor Hugo wrote in Les Miserables, “Not being heard is no reason for silence.” Yes, there are billions of websites out there, but you have a reason for people to visit your site…YOU! The digital world exists, we can embrace it, join it and allow it to truly represent who we are as educators…or we can hope it goes away and allow others to speak for us. I encourage you to share your brilliance with the world and make a class website. Your students will appreciate, parents will appreciate it and you have the power to represent yourself as an educator in the digital world.