What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 is a general term for websites & web applications that facilitate collaboration, participation and information sharing. For educators, these tools can allow you to connect with students both inside and outside the classroom. In modern Japan most students have access to a computer and high speed internet. Having a website created for them that encourages English-language sharing and participation can have dramatic results.
Problems and solutions
Some schools are not comfortable with the idea of using websites and online tools to communicate with students. This stems from concerns about privacy, online bullying, abuse, etc. Always check with your school before you have your students start using your website.
A great way to overcome resistance is to build your website before you pitch the idea. Having something tangible to show gives your idea legitimacy and shows that you are willing to do the necessary work. Showing examples of other ALT's websites and the success they have enjoyed will add weight to your argument. If there is still resistance, explain about & offer to use only the websites and applications that are private, password protected and monitor-able. Be flexible!
As far as in-class access goes, most school student computers do not have flash player installed. You can ask the computer teacher to install flash player for your lesson or you can project the teacher's main computer screen onto the students' computer screens. This way only the teacher's computer needs to have flash player and access to the sites you will use.
Websites created by Akita ALTs
- ALTs Online. This website is a collaborative ALT wikispace using wix, Glogster and Lino. The website is for Japanese students in Akita prefecture who want to have fun improving their English with ALTs via the internet. ALTs are encouraged to join and add an introduction poster to this site.
- English with Renaud. A free website created at wikispaces.com. This website makes use of widgets (embedded web 2.0 tools) such as Glogster, Lino and Wix. It also includes examples of Wordpress, voicethread, Prezi, and podcasts.
- Katagami English Spirit. This website is a wonderful example of the type of response these websites can generate. The site is also a Wikispaces page using both Glogster and Lino.
- English With Melyssa. A website that was created using Weebly. It is another great example of what you can do online for your students. One of the great things about this website is that it has a built in blog and all the English has been translated into Japanese.
- Lawrie`s Page. An excellent example of what you can do with Weebly.
- EnglishCentral. A comprehensive English-language website for students. There are videos arranged by difficulty with subtitles. Students can record their own voice to compare with a native speaker. They can also have their recordings rated, receive phonetic breakdowns of words they mispronounced and do practice vocabulary tests. Includes Japanese support.
- Podomatic. Let's you create online podcats. Great for listening practice lessons.
- Voice Thread. Allows you to upload and share videos, photos, pdf files and more to be used as a slide show. Users can then post text, voice or video comments around the slide show. It is easy for students to use and understand. Check out this link for an example: http://www.akitajet.com/wiki/index.php?title=Voicethread
- Glogster. An interactive poster that can stand on it`s own or be embedded into any wiki, website or blog. You can upload video, audio and pictures directly to the poster.
- Wix. Easily and quickly create free flash-based websites. The results look professional, the interface is easy to use, and you can embed other applications. Wix has also recently added the option of creating a blog.
- Weebly. A great website builder with a built in blog option. It doesn't have as many cool flash effects and animations as wix, but it does have a lot of nice themes to choose from and is a little easier to use.
- Wordpress. Quickly and easily create a free blog. Wordpress is one of the more popular blog-creation websites, and also supports a wide arrange of plug-ins so you can add additional functionality to your blog. Wordpress has an impressive list of ready-to-use themes as well.
- Posterous. Create a group blog. It's a great way to let your students get involved with the blog while maintaining control of the content. You can monitor all messages & comments and add password protection. The great thing about posterous is that students can post messages, upload pictures and even upload music all via their cell phone.
NOTE: Sadly, Posterous has been bought out by Twitter and will be closing.
- Wikispaces. A free and easy to use wiki builder. Wikispaces makes it easy to embed glogster posters, wix websites, linoit messages boards, etc, and have your students or other ALTs join the wiki to collaboratively design, build and add to it just like we do with this wiki. It is arguably the best website builder in that you can easily embed every tool on this page and invite members to help you. However, it requires much more work than the above builders. If you are tech savvy, you can access the html in wikispaces and custom design the site. Check out the websites above for examples of what you can do with wikispaces.
Message board builders
- Lino. Great and easy to use, includes Japanese-language support & tutorial. Allows links, video and photo posting.
- Wallwisher. Another message board program. Allows you to monitor messages and review them before posting.
- Corkboard. Easier to use but with less functionality. Has a live chat function.