Tracking Student’s Online Projects

Participation in online projects can sometimes be quite a challenge to monitor. Students will be posting to various wiki pages, blogs or web sites at various times and frequencies. One way to combat this onslaught is to create an iGoogle homepage. You can create a tab for each project or class.  Then, you simply get an RSS feed from the wiki pages, blogs or web sites that you want to monitor. You should be able to tell at a glance what is happening. Of course, it takes a bit of discipline on my part to make sure that I check this on a regular basis. But, if I have assigned a blog project to all of my students, that could be almost 100 student blogs that I have to track and read. So, this is a life saver. You can read the blog posts right from the iGoogle homepage. If you want to leave a comment, then you have to go directly to their blog – but only one click away.

Sharing how to set up a homepage with students will give them a way to develop their own personal learning network, links to sites they love or to enhance their learning by organizing their important web sites.

Following the educational dialogue

The first level of pull is access. According to book, The Power of Pull (John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison), “access involves the ability to find, learn about and connect with resources (people, products, and knowledge) on an as-needed basis to address unanticipated needs.”

It was the Flat Classroom project last fall that first introduced me to RSS readers as part of my professional learning network.  I promptly set up iGoogle as my homepage and followed many of the great educational sites/players – edutopia, Ted talks, Steve Hargadon and  David Warlick. Every time I took a look, there was something interesting or new happening and many new leads to follow.

I have since started following some fine educators on Twitter. Thomas Ro from our HWDSB 21st Century Fluencies committee gave me some tips on how to track tweets from these sources using Tweet Deck. This organizes all of your tweets according to your parameters.







Now the challenge is not to get too distracted with all of the interesting information coming at 140 characters! I also have the echofon plugin for my browser that keeps me informed immediately of any new tweets when Tweet Deck isn’t running. Then there is the “newspaper” ( that formats all the tweets I follow (and send) in a newspaper format – definitely easy to read. I have found some very useful links and tips from tweets and this takes far less time that reading blog posts.

Screencast: A Private way to share videos and files

Screencast is a portal where you can post videos, tutorials and slide shows for students, parents or peers. It has a much more professional polished look than Youtube. This is what it looks like with a video playing:

You can organize your content in folders and determine who will see the content with sharing permissions. You can embed the content into another web site or email the link. You can send specific invitations to people and give them permission to see the content. Or you can keep the content public and share the link with your class. Each folder can have various permissions attached to it. This is a free service with upgrades available for a price.