Thursday, March 12, 2009
There is a big push in education to create the "virtual classroom." Many colleges and universities have been offering courses that are taught 100% online for several years. Now states are joining this trend and offering high school courses through distance learning means. But where does the regular, everyday elementary, middle or high school class fit into this trend? How can a teacher, that teaches in a physical classroom everyday, take their classroom to cyberspace?
There are programs like Blackboard that allow teachers to create online, virtual classrooms where students can communicate with each other through discussion boards, post projects and download class materials at any time. Blackboard works for colleges and universities because they can afford the program. More and more school districts are moving towards using Moodle but that takes time to set up and the training involved can cost money and time also. There has to be, not only a free, but easy way to take the classroom online.
NICENET is an free, online resource that they call the Internet Classroom Assistant (ICA). Setting up your class takes two minutes. All you provide is a username, password and email address. All your students provide is a code that you are given at registration for your classroom. ICA takes removes the requirement of an email address for student participants. This is a big plus for time-stretched teachers.
Once you have set up your classroom there are several spaces to explore.There is a class discussion board where the teacher or participants can create and respond to posts, a document manager for class notes or assignments, a personal messaging center that allows users to send private emails with attachments to the teacher and a fully integrated schedule page showing a calendar what assignments are due when.
When you create your classroom there are a few options ro review. Teachers can have total control over the ICA. They can not allow students to create posts, just respond to them, they can turn off internal emailing except to just the teacher and they can turn document commenting on and off. The ICA is fully customizable, allowing you to create a virtual classroom that is just like your physical one.
So, if you are looking to take your class to Cyberspace definitely give NICENET's Internet Classroom Assistant a try.
NICENET's Internet Classroom Assistant