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Posting Student Work Online: Motivate While Boosting 21st-Century Skills

January 11, 2012

What if teachers could motivate and empower students while also seamlessly integrating technology? A practical technology article on EducationWorld.com, a free lesson-planning and professional development site for K-12 educators, describes how some teachers are posting student work online.

Recent advancements in technology have made it easier and cheaper to post student work online, yet many educators hesitate, not quite sure of how to begin.

Tom Chambers, Technology Applications teacher at Raul Yzaguirre School for Success in Houston, TX, has been posting student work online for some time, and he is a staunch advocate for the benefits of doing so.

Students’ projects allow them to apply technology to traditional academic subjects, Chambers explained. They complete creative or reflective writing assignments before a single line of HTML is written. Once the source material is ready, the students transform it into a dynamic Web-based display. Chambers’ student work is posted on an area of his personal Web site.

The student work is all grounded in technology, but runs the gamut in terms of how other academic subjects are incorporated. Here are a few examples of seventh-grade students’ projects:

  • Students produced brochures as part of a campaign against bullying. They honed their publishing skills and became more sensitized to the issue of bullying via research on the Internet and organization of their information and visuals within the software.
  • Students used photo software to create a banner ad/Web banner. They learned that this form of online advertising involves embedding an advertisement into a Web page so that it drives traffic to the Web site of the advertiser.
  • Students created presentations based on state standards for math. Young people were challenged to take control of the teaching process to make math more exciting and interesting to study. They researched the concepts online, then used visuals, text and animation to bring them to life.

Chambers said teachers’ fears of difficulties in working online often are unfounded and can be remedied with a little practice. In fact, because the work his students are doing can connect to nearly any academic subject, he strongly encourages non-tech educators to use online posting as an instructional tool.

“Most of the projects are core subject in nature, and they are created via technological tools [software/hardware],” Chambers said. “Absolutely, this approach should be taken by all teachers. Even the traditional assignments should be scanned and placed on Web pages for the students to peruse, and feel proud about what they do.”

While some may feel uncomfortable about putting student work in a place that can be accessed by literally anyone in the world, Chambers said he has experienced zero pushback from his administration, parents or students. One of the most significant positives has actually been increased student self-confidence.

He explained that this benefit, along with the opportunity to promote the school and engage other educators, make online posting worthwhile.

“The most significant advantage in posting the projects online is for the students to see their ‘product’ showcased in this manner for empowerment and self-worth,” Chambers said. “I also use the projects listing page to show student examples to motivate other students during the teaching process. The Web page is also a good promotional tool for our school system.”

Education World recently revamped its technology section to provide new features on the latest gadgets and professional development articles like the one above. This section is an excellent resource for teaching 21st century skills.