Student-made Websites using Free Content Management Systems

Instead of having my students create brochures or posters, I’ve been having my students create websites.  They can hyperlink and embed videos and widgets, and they can easily share the final product to Edmodo.  After they’ve done it once, they usually have no problems with the technology in future projects.  It’s also free, as long as you don’t mind “wordpress” or “wix” being in the URL.  If you want to remove that and have a more professional web address, you’ll have to pay for it.

Think about all the websites you visit each day.  Whether they’re coding them by hand or using a CMS, they should be familiar with how they to design one.

The Process

1.  Provide an overview of how to create a WordPress or Wix site and discuss the difference between good website design and poor website design.

2.  Assign topics or allow students to choose their own.  Decide whether students will work individually, small group, or whole class.  I’ve had success with all three grouping options.

3.  Students will research, and create a hierarchy of information.  Students can actually hyperlink to their sources, so it’s important that they have the URLS.  This is a great time to review summary, paraphrasing, and quoting.

4.  Students begin designing the layout of the site.  Who is the audience?  How many pages or tabs will be needed?  What do you want the viewer to see first?  What color scheme accentuates the message?  What original or public domain multimedia will be needed to help convey the message?  Could a widget be useful?

5.  Students will create content for the website much like when they’re completing any other research project.  They’ll need to write copy and cite sources, but this time they can easily add hyperlinks and multimedia.  Images can usually be embedded directly to the site.  Gifs may need to be uploaded to Photobucket and videos to Youtube or Vimeo; you then embed them on the site.

6.  Stress the importance of using valid information and citing their sources.  Stress the importance of using original or public domain images, video, sounds, etc.  Aim for professionalism.

7.  Students will complete peer critiques and make revisions.

8.  Students can share their websites with the teacher or class easily via email or Edmodo.

Assignment Ideas

1.  Any time you’re assigning a research project, you can have students present the information in a website.

2.  Students can also use the website to document a process, such as a science experiment.

3.  Students can use a website in conjunction with social media to raise awareness about an issue or to fundraise.

Student Samples

Multimedia Design students made Infographics in the Classroom, a website illustrating how one might use infographics.  This was a small group project, and these students eventually presented their findings at EdCampMadisonAL.

Creative Writing I students made the Shield Your Skin and the Don’t Be Blind to Bullying websites.  This was a whole-class project, and students executed these websites and social campaigns within one week.



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