Many of our students publish material online well over a hundred times per day; however, I’m not counting every Facebook, tweet, Tumblr, or Pinterest post as publishing material.
I’ve been fascinated by the pieces students create in their free time. Every year, I’m shocked by an unsuspected fan fiction novelist, poet, or song writer. What shocks me even more is that many of these students are quite hesitant to publish their material online. I see many benefits to having students publish their created work online. Namely:
1. Students gain skills – publishing to online sites requires navigating through hoops and following particular guidelines.
2. Students gain confidence – each time a page view happens on their work, or someone “likes” what they posted, student gain more confidence.
3. Students gain awareness – their published work can be read by anyone at anytime. This is far different from turning in a five page personal narrative to their English 10 teacher and only having one person inform them about their writing skills.
4. Students become curious – publishing a presentation can lead to tinkering with Blogger, which can lead to diving into WordPress. A little bit of nudging can go long way. Many of these site are full of great material in a wide range of areas. Getting students to these sites will open them up to whatever they’re passionate about.
5. Students get connected and authentic learning occurs - it’s a giantly connected world. Many of my students have never been outside of Wisconsin. I once had a class blog where students posted their summative responses to books they finished. When a blogger from the Philippines followed our blog, it led to two day adventure of geography and authors.
As with any web tool, it’s important to go over in detail with your students about using common sense and staying safe. The sites listed below are less than 1/10 of 1% of the publishing site available, but they are the sites I am most comfortable with and have been using with my students since 2009ish. One mistake I’ve made in the past with this lesson is forgetting the minimum age limit to create an account. Not all of the sites have the same minimum age requirement. When in doubt, don’t have students create an account, they can lurk (with your supervision), and can go home and have a discussion about the site with their parent/guardian.
Wattpad – This is an outstanding community of writers who fervently support each other. If you have a student who really has a passion to write, Wattpad is a great place to send them. What I like about Wattpad is the ease of following students. As with many of the sites I’ve listed, Wattpad will send emails when new work is published.
ScribD – This is a great Catchall site. For students who publish a wide range of things from recipes to tutorials, this site is a great place to post everything.
Slideshare.net - most awesome presentation hub ever! A great site to post presentations. What I really like about Slideshare.net is all of the embedding features for the slideshows. Slideshare is super easy to upload and has a very slick slideviewer. It’s also integrated with Google Apps. I’ve heard great things about Sliderocket as well, but I’ve been a bit of a laggard in getting around to explore that site.
Issuu - turns any .pdf into a magazine. This site is very intuitive and I’ve had great luck with tech-resistant students diving into Issuu and creating gems.
Lulu - have a book you want to print and have it sit on your coffee table? Lulu offers really good educator discounts. For any project-based school, having student created books are awesome for project presentation nights. Students love to hold books they’ve created!
Blurb - this one is brand new to me as of last week. One of my students is doing a project on tattoo’s and is creating an incredible book with this site.
Shutterfly – a favorite in my household. What’s really cool about Shutterfly is that books can be created right out of iPhoto, and the created books can be embedded into a website. Shutterfly seems a bit more adultish than some of the other sites I’ve listed, but I absolutely love this site and have been impressed with the products we’ve created and ordered.
The list goes on…and on…when I’m doing this lesson with students, I like to start with an overview of at least three of the sites, and then let students explore one of the sites for 15 minutes or so. I like to have students report back what they found, and talk about what sites they would use in the future. It’s interesting to see what students gravitate towards specific publishing sites. If you’re reading this, and you know of other great online publishing sites, please post them in the comments.
HAVE A GREAT WEEK!