Teaching without powerpoint - Using a website creation tool

There's lots to reflect on when you teach.  Rarely do we get a chance or have the inclination to do this fully.   For my role as a Learning Technologist in a Higher Education institution (Institute of Education, London, UK), I don't do a massive amount of teaching.  There is some but mostly the help and advice I provide is done informally in one-to-one meetings.  Anyway, I want to reflect on some teaching I did recently as I'm looking to improve and develop this particular session.

On Tues, 7th Feb, I ran a session called 21st century tools for teaching and learning.  I've blogged about the planning of this session before if you are interested -  http://tpreskett.blogspot.com/search/label/Web%202.0 .  There's much to reflect on, but I wanted first to think about how I structured and presented it.  The biggest challenge with this session is the amount of different websites I ask the participants to visit throughout the day.  There are lots of different types of tools to demonstrate and practice using.  To facilitate this process I have always create a website to act as the hub for the day.  In the past I've used a social networking facility like http://www.ning.com/ or http://www.grouply.com/.  However, this time I switched to a normal website creation tool.  The reason is that the social networking services are geared towards communication and don't present content particularly well.  As participants weren't really using the communication tools within the sites during the day (despite my encouragement) it seemed preferable to display the content as dynamically as I could using a tool more suited to this task.  I chose http://www.weebly.com/ mainly because I've used it before and it allows for embedded outside tools, videos, documents etc.  So I created a website with a different page for each type of tool I was teaching about:
  • Backchannels
  • Web 2.0 technologies in education
  • Noticeboards
  • Word clouds
  • Drawing tools
  • Mindmapping
  • Collaborative bookmarking
  • Tool exploration
  • Multimedia Posters
  • Digital Story-telling
  • Choosing an online tool
  • Creative Commons/Copyright
  • Map Tools
  • Timelines
  • Game sites
  • Quick Feedback tool
  • Application first steps
Within each page I had a consistent structure of a short presentation, embedded or linked example and activities.  The activities were setup so that the participants could practice using the tool within a relevant context.  Unfortunately, I can't share this website with you.  It was paid for session so it seems silly to give away for free what others had to pay for.  However, I've duplicated the word cloud page and it's available here if you are interested in seeing how the pages were structured:  http://wordcloudtools.weebly.com/.

Overall, the system worked well.  Some reflections:

- Some of the ICT co-ordinators were interested in the tool I'd used to create the website. 
- I'm not sure the presentations I embedded onto each page were necessary.  It didn't feel quite right presenting from slides in this context and environment.  I would be better served simply talking about the subject matter from memory when I visited each page. 
- Having the weblinks on the relevant pages worked well and made the navigation and structure very clear for all. 
- The website serves as a resource after the session for participants.  They simply revisit the site to download anything relevant and revisit the tools I've highlighted.  They seemed to like that idea.
- I didn't give them much paper as everything was on the site.  Any presentations were added as files to download.
- The activities mostly worked well although I will reflect about specific tool-types in later posts.

Had I used a normal powerpoint I would be forever toggling between the internet and my slides it would have been chaotic.  I can recommend using a free website service like weebly to act as the hub of any workshop you do involving lots of internet based activities.