A Web Companion for Teachers

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!

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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6 Responses to A Web Companion for Teachers

  1. MaryAnn Wilson says:

    Hi Tara,
    I am learning about web tools and starting to implement more in my classroom. I like the sound of Sidevibe. However, I just started an Edmodo account for my class. Can Sidevibe be used in conjunction with Edmodo?.

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Hi Mary Ann,

      Congrats on integrating more web tools into your classroom. I know that it can be a challenge at first, but I am sure you will have great results. Edmodo is a great site especially if your school does not have an online learning platform available, but I do not have a ton of experience with it so I cannot give you a definite answer. I can say that SideVibe is supposed to work with any website and it is definitely worth giving it a try. If you ever have an assignment where students use many resources on the web, SideVibe will help organize that activity for you and for students better than anything else I’ve seen.

  2. Moira Pratarelli says:

    When the equipment and the online connection at one’s school are unreliable, paper is the way to go. It never crashes. Our students are of college age, and should really be able to keep track of paper.

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Thank you for your suggestion, Moira. I agree that students should be responsible enough to keep track of paper handouts, worksheets, and homework. I also understand that technology can sometimes cause a lot of problems for teachers if it is unreliable, but students need tech skills to access the wealth of information that is online and to interact with a broader global community. Ideally, students will have experience with both paper-based and tech-based materials.

  3. soniaverma says:

    Hi Tara

    WoW!

    It is a great idea to implement. Let me just try with my students.

    sonia

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Thank you for your comment, Sonia. I hope that you and your students enjoy using this in your classroom. Feel free to come back to share some tips once you’ve tried it out.

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