Obviously, it’s the responsibility of the teacher to provide supervision of student activity in the class — whether it’s in the computer lab or not — all the time. However, there are some times when it might be a good idea to be a little vigilant than others. Yes, yes, I know we need to help our students learn to take responsibiity themselves. At the same time, one student accessing inappropriate content will help no one, including teachers who are trying to integrate technology into their pedagogy, once the word gets out to parents and/or administrators.
Here are four Web 2.0 applications that offer superior opportunities to English Language Learners and other students to create engaging online content. However, these same sites don’t, as yet, appear to have stringent controls in place that ensure that user-created content that is inappropriate for the classroom does not appear on the site.
These four sites, which are all relatively new (well, at least they are “new” to me!) would have all appeared on one of my “The Best…” lists if I had not spotted inappropriate content on one of my visits, or if, in correspondence with the site’s creator, I did not feel assured that controls were in place to moderate accessible content.
Here are my picks for The Best Sites Students Should Use With Supervision:
The Strip Generator is a super-easy way to make a comic strip. You don’t even have to register on the site. English Language Learners can drag-and-drop various figures, type in some text bubbles, and then save the url of their creation. It can then be posted on a blog or online journal.
Animasher is a very neat new tool to make online animations. It has two excellent features that stand-out (apart from it being easy to use) — you can grab images off the web to use in your animation, and you can use a microphone to add audio to it as well. I think it has a whole lot of potential. However, I can’t add it to The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Animations — at least not yet. Even though I didn’t see any content that is not appropriate for the classroom, they don’t have a system in place yet to ensure that continues.
I do know that Martin Jacobson, one of the site’s creators, is trying to figure out how to make it usable by classroom teachers. Because it seems so easy to use, and it has the ability to provide audio narration, I hope he can make that happen.
Go Animate is a pretty darn cool new online animation application. It’s a little more complicated than the other sites I’ve listed on my The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Animations, but I still think that most English Language Learners will be able to figure it out, and the results look so great! You can post the link to your creation or embed it.
Xtranormal is a new site that lets users create their own 3D movie clip. It has a text-to-speech feature that allows a computer generated voice to speak the script. It looks easy enough for English Language Learners to use. (However, it appears that it will no longer be free).
I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that stand-out for me. Feel free to offer other suggestions.