I’ve been using the internet in my classes for six years now and would like to share my ‘Top 5’ tips with you here.
Tip Number 1
Check out your target site(s) carefully before the lesson
Besides ‘spur of the moment’ image searches, never visit a site without checking it out thoroughly on your own first.
Learn how the site works.
If you need to register for membership to use the features you want to showcase, make sure that’s done.
Record the links for the exact page(s) you intend to visit during class before your lesson.
Tip Number 2
Set up your tabs.
Every major browser now offers tabbed browsing. This is really, really useful for teachers in the classroom. A typical ‘teaching tab set’ might include the following;
Google search window (I’m experimenting with iGoogle – and it’s own built in tab and tool options – at the moment. I’ll keep you posted)
Google Advanced Image Search - must be the advanced image search.
This gives you more control and it allows you to set the ‘strict filter’ option (I once did an image search for ‘nurse’ for a class of three junior high girls… This was a lesson learned the embarrassing way)
Bilingual Dictionary – As I teach in Japan, I use http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C
(if you are in Japan – www.JDIC’s Example Search is also useful enough to have in the tab set – you can easily give students a feel for the usage of a word)
Any other sites you use regularly… (e.g. http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/ for getting quick answers for common errors, etc)
Tip Number 3
Set up your teaching space properly.
This image is the Best Eikaiwa school in Miyazu, Japan.
The monitor is on the table and set in such a way that it’s visible for all students.
There is a wireless keyboard and mouse (which means that the teacher doesn’t need to turn away from the students to use the PC and that students can also use it easily.
The cables have been nicely tied up the table leg and the PC tower is within reach, but out of immediate sight (and away from the potential of coffee spills, etc)
The conversation area here is set up for a small group. This will work for up to six people, with groups over that size, you will either need additional monitors or invest in a small screen projector setup (I have one for corporate classes offsite)
Tip Number 4
Social bookmarking is a powerful tool.
It’s easy for your bookmarks to become a total mess, so I suggest setting up a delicious account and carefully tagging and annotating everything in such a manner that you can easily find it again.
**TIP** You can bookmark your bookmark sets – This allows you to create categories within delicious for particular purposes.
http://delicious.com/besteikaiwa/levels is an example of this (feel free to use mine if you can’t be bothered re-inventing the wheel J)
Tip Number 5
Below are what I consider to be the ‘essential shortcuts’ for teaching with the WWW.
Never just left click a link in the classroom (you have to wait – in class time – for the page to load, then, if it’s not what you needed, you have to go wait again for the first page to reload…)
Scrollbar click (or CTRL click (Command click for mac users) to open in a new tab. If it’s not what you needed, scrollbar click the tab again to close it.
Visibility (these may have slightly different effects in various browsers…)
CTRL (Command) + increases everything in size (in FireFox, it only affects text size)
CTRL (Command) – decreases size
CTRL (Command) 0 brings you back to default
CTRL (Command) and the scroll wheel also do this (handy to know as JP keyboards can’t perform CTRL +…)
Backspace and arrows (home, page up/down, etc)
The mouse is not always the best option in class (it’s good to break that habit)
Navigating through the back button requires you to break eye contact and concentrate on the screen while you move to and click the browser’s ‘back’ button. Use BACKSPACE
Similarly, using the scroll bars at the side of the page will break your ‘lesson flow’ Use the UP/DOWN arrows (and/or page up, page down and home to get right to the top again)
TIP – Want to print the whole page? CTRL (Command) prt scr and then paste it into an email/Word doc, etc…
If you have an interest in this sort of stuff, please contact me off list and I would be glad to share some resources with you (I've been collecting, tagging and trialing them in the classroom for six years now, so I have a pretty fair collection)