Homework Help Network

Many teachers that I’ve worked with have maintained a homework help line either via phone. Increasingly, teachers hand out their e-mail address in order for more tech savvy students and parents to write for help when they have the need instead of waiting around for a designated time to call. The teacher is then free to answer questions on his or her own time, without having to sacrifice a block of time each evening. The teacher also demonstrates in quite clearly that he or she is eager to help students, and is even willing to speak their language (the Internet). However, an even more progressive option for help with homework comes from other students helping each other through a homework help site.

That’s where the blog comes in. Instead of students calling only people they’re comfortable talking to in class (or being reluctant to even ask another student for help at all) imagine having a student-run homework help blog. Using a blogging tool, students could post questions, answers, and even host discussions or study sessions from the comfort of their own computer. Students more prone to shyness could post anonymously, while more outspoken individuals could help establish themselves as resident “experts” within the classroom.

The best thing is it allows for multiple inputs at once (instead of just a two way phone call), doesn’t tie you up on the phone line for hours, and allows other students to model effective teaching and tutoring methods. The time involved is actually quite minimal as teachers can safely monitor discussion through automated administrator controls on a number of blogging websites. Set up is often as simple as a few clicks of the mouse, registering yourself on a blogging web site, and then inputting a few variables such as your e-mail, the name of the site, and choosing a template. No HTML knowledge is necessary! It would just require 5 or 10 minutes once or twice a week to introduce what’s being discussed in class to start a new discussion, as Larry Benson does with his math class. The workload is further reduced because you can continue to use the site from year to year, as students are able to draw from a previous class’ experience and add their own knowledge. Below are a few sites that can help you get started with creating your own homework help network:

Free Blogging Tools

Visit My Class
– My personal favorite, Jim Wenzloff has worked with November Learning
to create a home for educators to safely blog.

School Blogs
– An education oriented blogging tool co-founded by Adam Curry, former
MTV-vj turned blogger.

– A blogging tool designed for teachers and students, it can be password
protected so only class members may view an participate. You do need
to e-mail David Warlick to get an account set up.

– A public blogging tool, it can be viewed by anyone. Not education oriented, but
you will gain instant "cred" with your students for using it.

Subscription Based
Blogging Tools

– One of the original educator’s sites for setting up class discussions.

Blog Harbor
– Non educational oriented site with lots of features. It costs about
9 bucks a month for basic service.

– A popular, and easy to use blog tool. Lots of templates and only costs 5 bucks a month for basic hosting. Not an education oriented site.




1 comment

  1. The sites you mention seem to be mostly for peer help or for very motivated teachers. I’m wondering if you’ve seen any results or know of any personal cases where this has actually helped the student in a sustained fashion instead of just providing an answer or 2. I’ve found with some kids in my family that they are responding to these different online tutoring websites. My niece is an active user of http://www.tutorjam.com and they seem to be helper her make real progress. Thoughts?

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