Sunday, March 4, 2012

Glogster Project

Educational Uses
Over the past week my students have been creating glogs instead of the standard research paper. At the conclusion of the last unit of study the students chose which topic most interested them for further research. The required content is posted on my previous blog post, but students were required to include primary source documents, pictures, videos, written analysis for each item on their glog, and a summative audio or video explanation of their project. This project was a great way to get students to research historical topics and present their findings by using meaningful technologies. Students were engaged not only in their research but also by the use of this Web 2.0 tool. I found that student's video and audio analysis was many times just as valuable and informative as a written paper. The collaborative nature of the project is yet to take place (results are coming), but I have assigned students to access their classmate's glogs for a test on the material in class. Each student was required to email me two questions from their blogs for their classmates to answer, and I was surprised by how many questions were challenging and higher level.

Technical Features
According to their website, "Glogster EDU Premium is a collaborative online learning platform for teachers and students to express their creativity, knowledge, ideas and skills in the classroom." The reason this is a Web 2.0 tool is because of it's ease of use, low (or free) cost, and it's collaborative advantages. The gist of the tool is that users create a digital poster with easily navigable options such as inserting word documents, pictures, user created audio or video, text boxes, hyperlinks, and embedded video files from YouTube. There are also quite a bit of options which allow users to customize their backgrounds using their large bank of images or by uploading pictures.

I have found that the technical features of the tool are extremely easy to use, and are quite intuitive for most web users. Students commented that the website was quite easy to navigate and I had very little questions about how to create a glog or how to use any of the functions. There are a few possible technical setbacks that I found however, including saving and publishing. The tool does not save automatically which set one student back because of his forgetting to save his work. Also, if students are not careful to follow directions they may forget to publish their finished product for viewing. These two options are not prominently featured on the project page. Besides these two minor issues this site is very user friendly and easy to use. 

Note: I was lucky that my school bought 200 student accounts based upon feedback from teachers who thought the site was worth investing in. The technology coordinator at my school set me up with a teacher account to monitor student progress and with a class list with site-generated user names and passwords. I went through the process with the coordinator and it was quite easy to use, both in the setup as well as the monitoring of student progress.

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