As an early adopter of Classroom Browser, I’m happy to share my experience.
Classroom Browser allows you to share a myriad of web links, without breaking the dynamics of the classroom. This is good to keep student’s attention and engagement – but also requires preparation.
Preparing everything before the classroom
As I wanted to test intensive web sharing with my classroom to evaluate the impact, I spent significant time aggregating links to articles and documents, online activities, polls, maps, and books.
Browser app for the preparation
Classroom Browser is perfectly adapted for classroom use, but for the preparation, I decided to keep using my usual browser (Firefox, but it could be any other):
- My passwords are recorded in my usual browser
- My bookmarks are in my usual browser
- Classroom Browser do not support multi-tabs
Another value it that during the classroom, I cannot share by mistake a link from my personal bookmarks
Everything I prepared in my standard browser worked as a charm in Classroom Browser. I just copy the URL in Firefox and paste it in Classroom Browser.
Choosing a tool to prepare my lessons and aggregate my links
What we really need is a text editor supporting web link so anything web based is good to use. If you are already using something online to prepare your lessons, just continue as usual. Otherwise, here is a quick and partial list of possible tools to write your lesson plan and aggregate your web links:
- Microsoft Office Online
- Google Classroom, Google Drive, Google Docs
- Dropbox – or other
- Moodle – or other
After few days I found that being able to share multiple links had an impact on the structure of my lessons. Less monologist, much more interactive for the students. The part of my own content decrease as I am aggregating content into a flat list of items to share.
Depending on the topics, I do a mix of:
- Poll (I start with a poll)
- Documents and articles (reference information)
- Maps and graphics
- Movies or animations explaining some of the concepts
- Short interactive activities when I could find some
- Poll (I finish with a poll)
A good starting point is to browse the recommended apps and resources provided by Classroom Browser (more resources can be found when you choose “More” in the home screen).
I usually start with a poll to introduce what we will learn during the session. When I do this, I find my students more curious, more concerned by the topic.
The last poll is for me to evaluate where we are, how the material was understood and memorized. Depending on the result of this poll, I may decide to do another lesson few weeks later to try to get better results.
For the documents and articles, I use often Wikipedia because I can highlight a lot of topics with little research – however, I take all the opportunity to remind to my students that we need to verify the number and the value of the sources mentioned for the article. I also use any other sources that makes sense to me.
For the movie or animations, I avoid any Flash based content because they won’t run on most of my student’s devices, so video (and more specifically YouTube videos) is generally the only option. Sometime I find good HTML or HTML5 animations that I can use.
Interactive activities are appreciated by students and allow me to give them a break, while keeping they attention to the topic. This may not be adapted to all grades but some good sources are referenced in the Classroom Browser recommended links:
- PHet (interactive simulations) provides a good set of HTML5 simulations that run on all devices in the Classroom Browser. You should avoid the Flash based simulations however, as they will not work on a growing number of devices.
- Funbrain is a good source of interactive games easy to match with the curriculum
- IXL is well now for its maths interactive activities
- TeacherLED has a good selection of resources
A more detailled list can be found here: Sharing Activities.
Creating the classroom
The only thing I have to do in the classroom browser before the course is to create a virtual classroom – more information.
To avoid students from another classroom join your active classroom, it is recommended to create a different classrooms instead of always using the same.
In the classroom
To on-board the students, the easiest way I found is to write the URL on the blackboard:
Of course, if you have the email address for all your students, it is better to send the link before.
I also write the PIN number on the blackboard. To get the PIN number, I start Classroom Browser,and select my classroom.
It takes 10 minutes first time for the students to get ready, mainly because they are curious and have many questions. The following days it only takes a minute.
When ready, I open the document containing my list of web links to share. I click a link, then click on share when the page is loaded.
Once a link is shared, I use Back to go back to my list.
Written by John Enostom, sharing his experience with the Classroom Browser.
— Classroom Browser (@classroom_br) September 18, 2015