One of the things that I have been thinking about in regards to my digital hub is how it can be a relevant and integral part of teaching and learning for my students, myself, as well as anyone who visits it. At the beginning of the school year, when I first created my hub, I was unsure of how it would support my teaching and student learning. However, as I continue to use it more and more, I am finding ways to make it a living part of what I do each day.
In my opinion, the best feature of my hub is the section of homework pages for all of my classes. On these pages, I post handouts, information about daily class lessons, homework assignments and due dates. Although I encourage students to still use their planners and digital calendars, I am pleased to be able to provide a space where they can always go to access relevant information about our course. This comes in extremely handy when students are absent from class and also when parents need to check to be sure that their children are completing assignments. A more recent bonus has been with homebound tutoring. Although I have not started this yet, I plan to use my hub as a means of direct communication with both tutors and their students. At this point, I am unsure as to whether or not I will create a separate section on my sidebar dedicated to tutors or if I will simply direct tutors to the appropriate pages. In any case, I feel that sharing this content online will allow for easy access by anyone who needs it.
I am also looking forward to adding content that has been created by my students. Most recently, students in my freshman classes have started to create book reviews for nonfiction choice texts, as well as visual components which includes either a digital book jacket, a commercial using platforms like Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Animoto, and also a digital storyboard. Although I had some questions about the legality of posting their reviews and visuals on my hub, I think that I have come up with a good solution, which is to have students select an excerpt from their reviews and tailor it for the purpose of posting online. I will then create a page where those reviews are reflected without names. Of course, there is a huge part of me that wants to attribute credit to my students for their work, so I will continue to investigate what I can actually post and whether or not their names can be included. I feel as though with this future addition of content, my hub will serve an additional purpose which will be for a larger audience.
Another feature of my hub is that it has pages for various works that we have been studying. So far, I have created a page for Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury on which I included an interview that students were required to watch on their own, a Ted talk from Sherry Turkle which related to our study of the text, several articles that are conceptually linked to the text and a full text version of the novel. I have also created pages dedicated to short stories written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. So far, I have full text versions of two short stories and an article from the Wall Street Journal that we will be exploring during the unit. I have found that these become valuable resources that my students are able use during their studies.
Although my hub is functioning somewhat well, I am considering many improvements. First, I would like to change the layout of my hub. When I created it, I chose a default theme; however at this point, I feel as though I would like to update its look. One of my concerns with changing it now is that my students have already become acclimated to it and its look. If I change it now, do I have to help them become reacclimated? I think the answer is yes but it might be a quick announcement to students that the appearance has changed, but that all the pertinent information is still there.
If I were to choose a section of my hub that needs the most work, I would say that it is the attention to various audiences. Currently, my main audience is my students and as such, the pages are separated by different classes. My plan is to extend the audience, which means that I need to create sections that are dedicated to educators and perhaps even parents. Further, I need to define sections dedicated to multimodal tutorials, lesson plans, etc. I would also like to include some other cool features including a “word of the day,” but I need to figure out how to accomplish that.
In short, I feel as though my hub is becoming a key part of my professional identity and I believe that over the next few months and even years, it will reflect me as an educator, the work that I do, and my desire to share important content with targeted audiences.