As technology continues to develop at an astounding rate, students who have grown up with things like the internet and mobile devices have come to expect seamless integration of such technology in the classroom. This expectation poses little challenge for a new breed of millennial educators, but a comparison of home media ecology of 40 years ago with that of today illustrates the vast gap some older educators might face compared to their younger peers. Full Sail Course Director Pete Episcopo understands that struggle, and he’s here to help.
In January, Pete (who teaches in Full Sail’s Media Communications department) will partner with Dr. Ryan Vissar of Clemson University to present a workshop at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) titled “Creating Teacher Websites: It’s Easier Than You Think!”
Both Pete and Ryan are Adobe Education Leaders, which means they have a passion for developing new ways to use technology in the classroom. In an effort to appeal to educators of all skill levels, their presentation will focus on website creation and the various tools teachers can take advantage of, from free offerings like Google Sites to professional programs like Adobe Dreamweaver and Muse.
“We’re well into the 21st century, and at this point students, parents, and administrators all expect teachers to have a website.What we’re attempting to do, in a nutshell, is to impress upon teachers the need to create and maintain a website, and then show them how to build one,” says Ryan.
“First and foremost, it’s important to us to build self efficacy for these teachers,” adds Pete. “We want to make sure they’re comfortable with technology, that they’re not afraid to touch it or make mistakes.”
More than a means of establishing a presence on the web, teacher-run websites offer a direct line of communication to students and parents, one that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. They can also serve as digital learning environments when connected to different learning management systems.
“Be aware of balancing text and visuals,” says Pete. “ Often, educators will pack a site with information, and not provide enough visual content to draw a user in. You also want make sure the site is easy to navigate, and that certain information is grouped in such a way that it’s easy to locate.”
Pete suggests going into the design process with a clear list of goals in regard to what you’d like to accomplish through your website. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can adjust the content based on the individual needs of your students.
“Some of these needs can only be discovered while you’re in the classroom, and that’s the spontaneous nature of the workshop,” he says. “It all comes down to connection. We want to be connected to our students and to parents. We live in the age of information, so the ability to connect is there. It’s just a matter of how to do it effectively, in ways that are engaging and fun.”