Sunday, February 10, 2013

How to...Websites

“ I've found a new hobby… creating websites!”


“Yea, it’s great. I can’t get enough of it!”

“But all that coding and those complicated command lines how do you have time?”

“Nah, it’s easy, just a click here and a drag there…”

“But I thought it takes hours to make a nice website. Maybe you’re referring to those boring Wikis everyone is in to. You can’t “click here and drag there” the kind of stuff the Rabbi from room 304 is doing. He has an amazing website for his class, but it must have taken him days to make it…”

“A couple of years ago, you would have been right, but ever since Web 2.0, things have been getting a lot easier around here…”

This is the typical back and forth that’s been going on between me and my colleagues at Magen David Yeshivah. I have literally become a website creating addict, creating and working on them every chance I get.

The truth of the matter is, that creating websites was something that the only the experts and C++ nerds had the opportunity to play around with. But with Web 2.0 paving the way and allowing everyone a chance to get in on the action, it is now one of the easiest Webtools I know. My students love the websites I've created, and I feel I am able to share so many more resources in an easy and visually appealing way.

There are tons of sites out there that allow you to custom build your very own website. Virtually all of them have some type of free account which provides the essentials an average educator will need (with Wordpress, you need a host!). So lets get started"

First, the usual suspects::

All of them have their advantages and drawbacks. I personally advise Weebly due to its easy and user friendly interface. It has just enough to keep you busy and happy at the same time. Here are a few examples of sites created using Weebly. All of them did not take more than an hour to make!

Google sites is also an excellent choice but not as simple as Weebly. The big advantage with Google sites its easy integration of Google apps (i.e. Goggle Docs, Google Forms etc).

For those with a “techie” side, Wordpress is the way to go; Many more options than the last two, but a little html know-how is in order.

There are numerous reasons to create a website for your classroom. I find that that the reason that tops my list is "resources." Unfortunately, most students are not yet as inclined to search the myriad resources that can be found on the internet as I’d like them too. Being able to post links to the resources I want is great.

I also love using it as a digital bulletin board. Giving students the ability to check the website for homework postings and test dates is a lot easier than sending out emails or giving them sheets to take home. Additionally, I make sure to post any documents they might have received in class on the website as a downloadable document, just in case someone ”lost” the homework or was “out sick” that day. Once you have your website set up, updating it is easy.

If you're interested in starting your own website, I would first advise looking around at other teacher’s class websites and then think about what type of items you might want on it too. Once you have it planned out in your head, just jump into it. I Promise you won’t be disappointed.

Any suggestions or questions, feel free to comment below.

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