An online school bag

In a very interesting blog post Adam Steiner and Elizabeth Stringer-Keefe claimed that with the help of simple web tools teachers could end the “the-dog-ate-my-homework” excuse once and for all. Making homework and teacher instruction available online and using audio and video to enhance boring text seem a great way to facilitate access to “school stuff” from home or anywhere else that is not school. It might even boost learner motivation.

The thing is, my homework assignments have been looking like this for a while now. I’m using all the technology that is suggested by Steiner and Stringer-Keefe – and even some more. The dog, however, still munches away on my students’ homework. It seems that the dog not only loves paper but also has a healthy appetite for digital links. Students simply forget or mistype them regularly.

A few weeks ago I found a solution for this problem thanks to Larry Ferlazzo’s marvelous blog. He presented start.me as a great place for students to save links when they are doing research. For me it looks as if start.me could serve as a full online school bag for all the learning students do on the Internet. It’s a free and easy-to-use service that lets you generate a home-page in which you can embed any website just using copy and paste. This way students have all the materials and web tools they need on a single page – just a tap away from the home screens of their mobiles or in the bookmark section of their browsers.

You can even share your site with others which makes it also a great tool for teachers. I you want to know what it looks like, just have a look at this start.me site that I created to show my students the many ways they can improve their English online.

Maybe now the dog can turn to gnawing on bones again and leave my homework assignments alone.

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