Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Promote a Classroom Website or Blog

Throughout history, teachers have seldom felt the necessity to be good advertisers. We have, however, always had the need to be good communicators. With the advent of blogs, wikis, and other web based activities for the classroom, promoting and advertising is the most important step in communicating with parents and students today.

Here are a few things that you can do to advertise and promote your website, wiki, or blog:

  1. URL address: When you first create a website, most services will let you choose your url...somewhat. Do the best you can to choose a logical yet MEMORABLE address. If you can't get the address you want, don't worry too much. There are other services that will allow you to create a shortened or alias URL that will also take your audience to your site.

  2. URL shortening: If the website you use has a really long URL, don't fret! Trying to get 30 students to type a long URL just they way they see it on the board is painful enough to make any teacher pull out their hair, so URL shortening is the way to go. Using a URL shortener will give you another URL that also takes your audience to the desired site. For this I prefer www.bit.ly. You can shorten any link for free, but you really want to create a free account first, and here's why. With a Bit.ly account you can shorten a URL and then you can customize it. An uncustomized URL will look like this "www.bit.ly/a1b2c3". A customized address could be www.bit.ly/techtoolsforschools. Now, not only is your URL shortened, but it's also memorable.

  3. Paste your URL into the blue box and bit.ly will automatically shorten with a random code.

    By clicking "Customize" you can change your URL to something more memorable.


  4. QR Codes: URL shortening is great, but let's face it no one likes to type any URL on a small device like a phone. QR codes are fantastic, because they use the device's camera to scan the code, which immediately opens the device's browser and takes the user right to your site. It's great! Open houses are the perfect time to use these, but I would suggest that you remind your audience to save the site's address on their device. Also, don't forget that not everyone will have a QR app or perhaps not even a device. So be sure to post the site's address alongside the QR code. Rarely should you use a QR code by itself without the address.

    Clicking on the info page for your shortened URL (within bit.ly) will reveal a QR code for your site. Right click and save this image for later use in documents & flyers.



  5. Hyperlinking from other sites: Having other sites place a hyperlink to your site, gives your audience multiple avenues to get to your site. A couple examples: your campus webpage or a team/department page. For example, if I were a HS Social Studies teacher, I would try to think of where my parents and students might go to find info about my class. Then, I would find the managers of those sites and request that they place a link on their site that will send their audience to my site.

  6. Hyperlinking to other sites: It's good practice to place hyperlinks on your site that refer your audience back to any other site that you are affiliated with. I recommend that you start with the sites in #4 above.
    Need more info about hyperlinks? click here: This is an example.
    Want to know how to create a hyperlink? click here. (Instructions courtesy my alma mater).

  7. Valuable content: If you want your kids on your site, and want them there often, your site will need to have content and resources that your students can't live without. Here are some of the most ingenious and useful things I have seen on teacher sites: classwork journal, assignment calendar, pictures and videos of projects, tutorial videos, homework handouts, links to websites with study aids or drills, links to current events related to course content, links to online grade viewers, etc.

  8. Email: Whenever you communicate with students and parents via email, be sure that you have a link to your site somewhere in that email. The email signature makes the most sense, but anywhere in the email is better than no where.

  9. Class Lessons: One great way to condition your students to referring to your site is to use your site in lessons. I highly suggest making this a priority during the first week or two of school. Show the kids how to navigate your site. Show them the role it can play in their success in your class.

  10. Homework Assignments: Having homework assignments that require the use of your site, are another great way to get your kids conditioned to using your site.

  11. Extra Credit: After a couple of months my students started to figure out that I posted extra credit assignments on my site. Although I never advertised them in class, the word got out that if you wanted or needed extra credit in my class, the only way to get it was to pay attention to the class website. This was fantastic because the students that needed EC the were those that could gain the most from the information on my site. Sometimes the extra credit I posted was a simple as answering a question in the comment section of the blog post.

Most importantly...remember that getting your students and parents to your blog is the first major battle of the school year. Giving them a reason to return is the second.


Do you have other ideas for training students and parents to visit your blog? Please share by leaving a comment below.