A class website isn’t a notion that would have been considered even five years ago, but now, high school and college classrooms around the country are thinking about creating their own class websites. Building your own WordPress site is now easier than ever, and with the right hosting themes, tutorials and resources, a website could make classroom facilitation a lot easier.
But a successful classroom site isn’t as simple as throwing up a theme, and updating it occasionally. It can be a very useful tool, but there are a lot of considerations before you get started.
Here are three concerns and concepts you should carefully consider before entering the ranks of being a digital teacher:
1. The Advantages
First, let’s look at the some of the advantages. The most obvious advantage is how it streamlines classroom facilitation. When things are constantly updated on a website, it is easy to keep your students on the same page. Since the majority of students will have a smartphone and/or daily access to a computer and internet, there will be no excuse for them forgetting homework again! Here are some of the greatest advantages of a classroom website:
- Reminder of Due Dates: Stop the emails and phone calls when a student forgets the assignment and due date by posting about it daily.
- Display Student Work: When someone does particularly well on an assignment, display it on the website. This is particularly useful for art classes. Student artwork could become the centerpiece of this education website.
- Post Supplement Information: A lot of students will want study aides, extra reading assignments, videos and other resources to help them further research a topic. Since you likely will not have time to discuss those things in the short hour you have to teach your class, the website is a great medium in which to share the information.
- Accept Submissions Online: At-home quizzes, essays and other assignments can be submitted through the website. Online submissions cut down on paper and increase the organization of your classroom.
- Keep Parents in the Loop: Parents will not have an excuse for not getting involved when you have a website loaded with information.
- Post Grades: Keep students up to date on their classroom performance by posting their grades in a secure online system that shows only their grade. Please note that if you do not have a way to encrypt grade information, it should not be posted on the website.
2. The Disadvantages
The ease of facilitation comes with costs, however. It is not easy to keep this information private and updated. Here are some of the biggest cons to building a classroom website:
- You have to update it. You are the only one who will pay attention to the backend of this website, so if you forget to alter something, it could throw your students off or put them behind in their studies.
- You might have to pay for it out of pocket. Some colleges and universities will pay for the domain and hosting of a website, but it often comes out of your pocket. Only do so if you can afford the cost and think it is worthwhile.
- Website design can be tricky to learn. It is easy to throw up a WordPress website nowadays, but there are still some tricks to getting it to function and look great. If you do not have any background in web design, you might find it difficult to develop the website.
- Everything you post will become public unless password protected. This means that if you want to post grades, names or any other sensitive information on your website, you will have to develop a way to protect it from unauthorized personnel.
3. Proper Hosting
When it comes to developing a classroom website, WordPress is one of the best tools around. It provides a great content management system with diverse themes that benefit education. It also offers secure and speedy web hosting that backs up daily and is scalable for responsive design. There are several types of hosting within WordPress’s system to consider:
- Shared: This is like an entry-level position in a new website. It is the cheapest option available, but your website is sharing space with hundreds or even thousands of others on the same server. This can impact the speed, memory, bandwidth and storage space for your site.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS): As the name suggests, you are only sharing a server with a few other people rather than hundreds of people. This offers you much more space and flexibility. It is best to choose a VPS package that is managed, which is more expensive, but has better support.
- Cloud: Cloud hosting can occur with either shared or VPS hosting, and it allows your website room to grow, which is great if you want to keep information from year to year rather than deleting and starting over.
These are the three hosting types you will likely face when developing your classroom website. It is important to research and consider all the options clearly before jumping in. This website may be vastly beneficial to your students, but you should not engage if it is not something you are certain you can handle on your own.