Over my long career, I have been astounded by how much technology has advanced and enhanced my ability to teach.
For example, when I first started teaching in 1977, it took an hour to read through a huge catalogue and select a movie to show to my class, another hour to complete the proper form and mail it, and weeks before the movie arrived in the mail. When it arrived, I usually had two days to show the movie before I had to pack it back up and return it. I don’t even want to describe the frustration of learning how to thread the movie through the projector and create the proper loop so the movie would not pop throughout the viewing like a “silent” movie in the 1920s.
Years later, VCRs and video cassettes replaced movie projectors.
Years later, DVD players and disks replaced VCRS.
Now, we have moved on to digital downloads. Who knows what will be next?
No aid, device, or piece of technology, however, has made my job easier than a course website that contains information about my class, due dates, information for parents, links to websites that provide additional help, and most of the assignments that students must complete in my class.
I created my first course website about 8 years ago and suffered through learning FrontPage. Today, I use a blogging platform (WordPress) that allows me to add information through pages. This process allows me to post updates and add new information in only minutes.
As the years go on, I keep adding and refining what I have on my website. When students needed more examples, I started posting papers from previous students (with their permission). When I create new assignments, I add a new page and show the assignment. When I stop using an assignment, instead of removing it from the website, I simply type the note “We will not complete this assignment this month.”
Many teachers who look at my website express the idea that they do not have the time or the skills to create a comparable site. What they may not understand, however, is that I built my site a little at a time over the years.
Today, as I prepare for a new semester, all I will have to do is update my syllabus and due dates and make the changes on my website. I will then direct students to the website, teach them how to use it, and explain that they will need to print assignments when we get to them. I save myself hours simply by reducing the number of assignments I have to duplicate for students,
If you don’t have a website for your class, it’s an idea you might want to consider. Course websites increase communication between teachers and students, teachers and parents, and teachers and other teachers. Each week I receive one or two emails from new teachers who ask permission to use my assignments or who just express thanks. We are all accustomed to sharing ideas with the teacher down the hall. Course websites allow us to share ideas with teachers across the globe.
Here’s the link to my AP English Language & Composition website: