Better Teaching Thru Tech

It’s a website … it’s a portfolio… Whatever it is, it’s much better than a resume

Have students create their own website to demonstrate mastery of your course content

In my classes, I have my students create their own website. I do this in all of my classes and I don’t teach any classes on web design or graphic design. This assignment is popular with my students and extremely useful for them as they move on in their careers.

I take course content, small assignments, and components of larger assignments and have students store them on the websites they create during my course. After the course is over, students tell me they put their websites’ links on their resumes and share them during interviews. One student put her website on her business card as a QR code and, during a job fair, showed it to a potential employer—she ended up getting the job!

My assignment looks like this:

  • I present the assignment in my syllabus and recommend using Weebly, Wix, Google Sites, or any other hosting platform. They do not need and I do not recommend they pay for web hosting; they are way too early in the process.
  • I write in the assignment that they are not being graded on their website design skills; they are being graded on their content.
  • I share with my students a checklist of what I would like their website to include. I require sections that share material that is relevant to my courses, for example: an annotated bibliography, documented teaching strategies, and recommended children’s books.
  • I assign point values for each component of the checklist.
  • I require an About You section and a Your Choice Additions section.
  • I do not assign a format or style or anything like that. I want this to represent my students.
  • Finally, I don’t share examples of other websites unless they ask for them, and then I make them available. I don’t want them to copy and I don’t want them to hesitate to make a mistake at the beginning.

I usually have one workshop class during the course for students to share successes and get support if they are frustrated.

Additional tips
I find that even those students who are the most tech resistant end up loving this assignment and all my students talk about learning a new skill set. For most of my classes, I use the website assignment as a kind of portfolio for the class but in a research class I teach I use it as a way for my students to publicly share the research they are doing. As undergraduates, having a place to share your work beyond the usual—submit your paper to your prof and get a grade—is eye opening and makes for better, more serious work.

I hope you think of using this project and making it your own. This type of assignment gives your students a product that can live beyond your course and contribute to their later success.

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