Three Ways to Teach Students Technology Skills

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Teaching students how to accomplish things with their computers shouldn’t be as overwhelming as it sometimes feels. Here are three ways that I have alleviated the burden of teaching students how to do things with technology that helped me focus my energy on students learning the course materials rather than on troubleshooting unexpected technology problems.

More Questions than Answers

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This post will be a departure from my usual spotlight on tech tools. I seem to be having a lot of conversations lately about academic freedom, intellectual property, and access to academic resources. In a way, this does tie into our discussion about technology because technology — especially Internet databases — is supposed to make more things accessible to more people. The Internet is supposed to be the great equalizer.

Using WordPress for Student Research Papers

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I’ve been preaching the use of WordPress to my faculty members in the humanities who want to find a better way for students to write and share their research papers.

Alternatives to the CMS-Based Student Project

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This post is part three of my three-part series on the CMS and Web-based student projects. While in parts one and two I talked about how CMS projects came to be and reasons why we might want to re-think them, in this post I suggest some alternatives to these types of student projects.

Why Re-Think the CMS-Based Assignment?

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Since I have been at W&M, we have gone from the relative freedom of the Web left over from the 1990s to the more managed reality of the content management system. Content management systems (CMSs), like WordPress, provide easy ways to build websites and have your students present their work on the Web, but the CMS does have its drawbacks. In order for it to allow for the easy creation of polished-looking sites and let your students focus on writing, the CMS makes many of the other decisions about the website for them. Thinking through what a CMS-based student project often accomplishes may help you better refine your web-based student projects.

The Origins and Drawbacks of CMS-Based Student Projects

Nothing says 1990s Internet like Netscape!

As an undergrad at W&M in 2002, I completed my first website for an assignment in an American Studies class. Ten years later, the Web has changed, but I am not so sure if I can say the same for many classroom Web projects. Publishing content on the Web is far easier today than it used to be, thanks to a category of Web applications called Content Management Systems (CMS). A CMS allows people to publish content to the Web without much technical skill. This is great because it allows class projects to focus more on writing and Web publishing. However, I wonder if we have lost something in Web projects as CMSs like WordPress have become more prevalent. I think it is time to reevaluate what a semester-long Web project should look like.

Bloggers of the Academy

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Are you looking for some new blog reading? In this post I share some of the blogs that I’ve been reading recently by academic bloggers.

Using WordPress in Your Class for Student Writing and Websites

Thinking about using a Web-based assignment in a class this semester? If so, this post covers the basics of assigning these kinds of projects to students. Evan also lists many resources for writing Web-based assignments using WordPress, as well as tutorials to help you get started.

Student Thoughts About Podcasting Assignments

If we weren't required to leave the room, we would probably look like this...(Leaning over the table while students write)

When requiring students to complete non-traditional assignments like blogging and podcasting, it can be difficult to predict how students might respond to these kinds of learning activities. In this post, Evan shares some of the input he received from students who did blogging and podcasting in his classes. He also shares the questions he uses for his Technology Evaluation that he asks students to fill out at the end of the semester.

Blogging in the Classroom: Three of My Mistakes

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Evan reflects on three mistakes he made while using blogging in the courses he’s taught.