Have you ever given students a worksheet to guide them through an online assignment? Have students ever lost such a worksheet between the classroom and the computer lab or the classroom and home? Is your computer station or lab lacking appropriate desk space? Have you observed the clutter in a computer lab when students work individually or in groups in front of a computer surrounded by worksheets, notebooks, and textbooks?
Online resources are an important aspect of education today and more and more instructors are using them with students. However, traditional paper-based worksheets are still the norm, even when working online, and this is sometimes less than ideal. SideVibe is a free program designed to help you solve these problems. It enables teachers to design online activities and help students complete those assignments without paper-based materials. According to the site, SideVibe will “change the way you teach with the Web.”
Here is how it works. Sign-up for a free SideVibe account and install the toolbar on your computer. When you make an assignment and when students are completing assignments, a floating window will appear on top of the webpage you are working with. This means that both the content (webpage) and assignment (in SideVibe) are in the same location. For example, users can see questions related to a video on the computer screen alongside the video or can view scanning questions for a reading next to the reading itself. Rather than constantly shifting focus between a piece of paper and the computer screen, teachers and students can benefit from focusing their attention on one place: the computer screen.
According to the site, traditional paper worksheets are a barrier to teaching and learning using the Web. I am not sure of that, but it does seem reasonable to suggest that focusing your students’ attention on one location will help them stay engaged and on task. While I do not have a lot of experience using SideVibe yet, it has been on my radar for a while and I encourage any teachers using web-based activities in their classrooms to consider it. There are many features to explore and it is so easy to get started.
Have you used SideVibe? Tell us what you think!