Monday, January 07, 2013

Minor’s Favorite Web 2.0 Tools---For Now!

Dorothy Minor is our latest guest blogger on The Eighth Floor.  She has been working with Web 2.0 tools for quite some time and has real experience at practical application. 

Dorothy Minor
Associate Professor, English
Tulsa Community College

After using a variety of Web 2.0 tools over the last few semesters, I have developed some favorites. The Web 2.0 tools I currently like the best are those with the following qualities: free, easy to use, student/teacher-friendly, useful in learning/teaching. I have found a wide variety and number of Web 2.0 tools which fit the criteria listed above. However, I would like to focus on three that fit the criteria and add a bonus item: fun to use: Jogtheweb,; Bighughelabs,; and Themeefy,

After creating a free account at jogtheweb, students and teachers can collect Web sites on a particular topic, add comments, and create a title page complete with questions or directions for using the collected sites. This semester, I required my Comp I students to create their own Jogtheweb accounts and collect sources for their research papers in the jog. They then posted their jog links in a wiki I created for that purpose in Blackboard. I had access to the sites the students were using through the links. I also created a jog which I used with students to help them evaluate Web sites. I chose sites that can fool the casual observer into thinking the sites are legitimate when they are not. Interspersed with the bogus sites, I included reliable sites. Students had to investigate all the sites and write a short paper explaining which sites were legitimate and which were bogus along with their reasons for identifying the sites as legitimate or bogus.  For a class reading Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” I assembled sites on O’Brien, the Vietnam War, Native American Vietnam veterans’ accounts of their experience in the war, and other accounts of the Vietnam War. On the title page, I included specific questions to guide the students through the sites prior to our classroom discussions of the story. Jogtheweb offers a variety of ways to engage students with material.

Bighugelabs is fun to use because we can use the site to create a poster, magazine cover, movie poster, jigsaw puzzle, and trading cards. After my students read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, they made magazine covers to advertise the story. While the students had fun in developing their magazine covers, they also had to think about the story they had read and incorporate certain elements which I required. The assignment allowed the students to be inventive and resourceful. They showed their finished products to the rest of the class. One student put the price of his magazine as “an arm and a leg.” I thought that was clever in view of the story we had read: Frankenstien. Bighugelabs provides an opportunity for teachers and students to be creative and use the site to showcase ideas they have or to reflect upon readings. Cindy Brock, technology coordinator at Presbyterian Day School, Memphis, TN, offers more ideas for using Bighugelabs on her blog: .

The third Web 2.0 tool to investigate is Themeefy. With a free account, we can produce an online magazine consisting of Web sites, videos, images, and our own text.  The uses for this tool are emerging rapidly. This semester, I developed an assignment for my Honors Comp I students to curate a magazine on topics they had been studying about Japan, our focus in the honors class.  They started by brainstorming on the subjects they wished to include. The assignment had specific requirements such as the number of Web sites, videos, and topics to include. Students were then free to add other material as they saw fit; they included additional videos or images to illustrate the points they wished to make.  Then they presented their findings to the rest of the class.  As with JogtheWeb, we can collect Web sites for students to evaluate, mixing in legitimate sites with bogus ones. We can also assemble sites on a particular subject so that students have the material in one place for further study.  We can take screen shots of the computer and documents and load them into a Themeefy magazine. For an online class, the possibilities are intriguing for including our syllabus, sample papers, videos of important content, and other materials. Themeefy offers a variety of uses for both students and teachers.

Jogtheweb, Bighughelabs, and Themeefy open up new worlds for students and teachers alike. They give us the opportunity to be creative while we use technology to enhance our learning and teaching. If you have not seen these tools, give them a test drive. We can have fun sharing ideas on how to incorporate these Web 2.0 tools into our courses. Enjoy the ride!

Dorothy Minor

If you are interested in guest blogging for The Eighth Floor, let's talk!  - Thanks, Lee Anne

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