As educators, we can build connections face to face but also through social media platforms such as Twitter and Google + communities to stay in the loop and to upskill ourselves. Within Manaiakalani, we can join colleagues for toolkit sessions and get online technical support from Tania Coutts.
Blogs are probably the most common ways to create and maintain online connections between students, teachers and whanau. Programmes such as Tuhi mai, tuhi atu and Quad blogging have been successful at linking students who are at different schools or parts of the country.
My biggest insight for this session was to think critically around how to use sites to make connections AND lead learning. We all were challenged to take an honest look at our own sites - is the content relevant? is the layout visually appealing and engaging? is it functional and accessible for students, whanau, and teaching colleagues?
A few of us were asked to share our learning sites and got feedback from other DFIers on their impressions and possible 'next steps' for improvements. I shared the landing page for the site I use every day with Year 7 & 8 students at Pt England School. I am one of five teachers who use this learning site designed by one of our team, Rob Wiseman.
Feedback for the landing page of was really positive from the others:
- the overall page has a simple, clean layout with lots of white space
- all the A+ (key) content can be seen in one go (no extra scrolling)
- includes student artwork - the lower part of the page has teacher photos (not emojis) and name details making it easy for whanau to find the right person
I enjoyed having part of the session to get help to tweak my literacy and maths groups pages. Updating the page settings to remove extra text from the top of each page turned out to be quite straightforward and definitely improved the 'look' of each page.
However, the real game changer was fixing the 'term' headings. Putting them in a logical sequence, only showing the current term in white font and linking each one correctly to previous term's site pages has given much needed functionality to each page - a big THANK YOU to our trainers!
Looking forward to week 8 and finding out more about NEW Google Sites.