Last week I was assigned the task of reviewing the website Kidsblog.org. I had never heard of this website before but the name alone gave me some insight as to what the format of the website would be like. I was assigned the task of signing up to the website (which is free for the basic package), set up a class and assign my fellow classmates in my group an activity to complete. However, as I went to sign up to the website, I encountered some difficulties. Having never used the website before I was informed that my email address was already registered and I could therefore not set up a class. After much confusion, trial and error, and investigation, I realised that my group member Alan had set up a class and had registered me as one of his pupils. I was unaware of this in the beginning as I did not receive an email from the website informing me that I had been registered into this class. Had I not rang Alan to investigate this problem I would a) never have known that I was in his class and b) probably never have returned to the website again. There was no option to suggest that perhaps my email address was registered because I was placed into somebody’s classroom. I found the registering process alone to be quite frustrating and not as straightforward as I had hoped.
Having successfully logged onto the website, I began to embark on my journey through Mr Pender’s classroom. At first I was quite confused as I did not instantly receive or find the activity he assigned the group. It took several minutes to make my way around the different options and to finally reach his page. The website does not offer any clear instructions as to how to use it which I thought was a let down as this site is designed to create a virtual learning and classroom space between teacher and student(s). Based on my own personal experience as a teacher I am certain that the majority of my pupils would not have been able to successfully access their tasks without much help.
The layout of the website is similar to that of WordPress which was beneficial as I have my own WordPress blog. However, for those who do not I would be concerned as to how they would know how to navigate themselves around the website. Each member of the class has their own blog page which everyone else in the classroom can access. This allows for the pupils to compare notes and to see each others work. However, when I clicked onto my fellow ‘pupils’ blogs, I noticed that they had not been used. This alerted me to the fact that the remaining members in my group also experienced difficulty using this website.
I did not like this website that much and although in theory the website sounds fantastic and sounds like it would be an excellent resource, I would be hesitant to introduce it to all of my pupils. I would perhaps aim it towards my better able pupils and towards my seniors. I think this website would cause much confusion for weaker students who do not work well without clear, precise and continuous instruction. Something that does not sit well with me is the fact that once someone is registered as a pupil, it seems as though they can not set up their own classroom. As a teacher myself I found this to be quite frustrating as I seem to be unable to set up my own classroom for my senior pupils. I am also unable to register myself as a teacher.
I found the commenting process so be also quite confusing as I was told that Mr Pender had commented on my blog post when in actual fact his comment came before my post ever existed.
Although I seem to be talking about a lot of negatives in relation to this website, there a number of positives also. Having investigated the website in great detail, I noticed that each member of the class can edit the name of their blog and change it to the name of a topic. For example, I changed the name of my blog from my own personal name to ‘English’. This I thought was excellent as each member of the class could entitle their blog page according to the topics being covered in class. For example, the teacher could assign ‘Mary’ the job of entitling her blog ‘Cults’ which would then allow the remaining pupils to comment under this blog and thus categorize the different topics and subject content being covered in class.