Three sixth grade social study teachers asked me about some ideas for technology integration with their Greek unit. I was thrilled to help. They told me that last year they used Facebook but some parents were not very happy about that; so this year they asked for my thoughts about a replacement. It didn’t take me long to come up with Glogster as my choice. After the unit, these teachers were gracious enough to take some time out of their schedule (it was the end of the year compadres) to sit down and talk with me about how it all went. Their verdict: “It’s just OK.” Read on past the break to find out why it worked, but what was missing or needed to change.
The sixth grade was doing a unit on Greece for their world history class. They wanted to add a mythology segment where students would create a mythological profile online and other students would look and comment on those profiles. Pretty cool and Facebook was their first choice last year, but a few parents were uneasy with this and so I suggested Glogster.
Why I suggested Glogster
I urged them to use Glogster for a couple reason why and here they are:
- With an educational profile (I used the premium one for one month free) it let’s the teacher create the usernames and their logins. This means students don’t need to give an email or any personal information, the teacher will control all that.
- Teachers can monitor and edit a student’s Glogs if there is anything inappropriate.
- Teachers have the means to change passwords in case a student forgets it.
- Students will be able to view other students Glogs and comment on them (as long as they are within the class).
I’ve played around with Glogster, but I’m no expert by far. In my experience it seemed pretty easy to use and I thought that students would enjoy using it. Studentscan look at their peer’s other Glogs and leave comment which brings the social aspect to it.
The technical issues we had were due to our network. When a number of people were trying to log on, our network had a lot of issues of handling all the requests. It was like a traffic jam where nothing was happening for a few minutes, then all of a sudden it would work a minute, then there was no movement for the next few minutes. I think it is our network as I’ve encountered this same problem with Google Docs and Prezi, so while it was annoying, I’m pretty sure Glogster is in the clear here.
Some students also had issues uploading their own videos at home, but again, this might be due to their own home network and the slow upload speeds we have in our city. Hey, we all can’t live in Silicon Valley.
What they liked
Remember the title of this post is “Glogster – It’s just OK”, not “Glogster – I want to kick their servers into the frickin’ river.” There were some things that they liked (or didn’t mind) and I’d like to highlight those right now.
- One thing they did enjoy was how easy it was to make a Glog. They didn’t have too many issues with kids trying to add or change something on their Glog. This is good. You don’t want your unit to switch from Greece to Glogster. That’s something that they wanted to avoid and it seemed like that happened.
- The teachers also liked how easy it was to change the passwords of their students. Now, before you start rubbing your hands together maniacally, thinking how fun it would be to mess with your students. These fine educators were changing passwords for students who had forgotten their password. This feature was easy to use and easy to change. It seemed to work every time which is nice. It helped kids keep working on their work.
- Another feature that one teacher liked was how easy it was to add videos (such as YouTube or homemade) to the Glog. He felt that the videos added a nice feature onto the Glog. Often many were YouTube videos from the Discovery channel or other trusted sites, which means that their information was most likely very accurate.
- One of the teachers liked the open-endedness (I know that’s not a word) that Glogster offered. He liked how students could not only provide accurate information but also demonstrate their understanding through the design of their Glog as well.
- He also mentioned that some of the students also said that they liked using Glogster. It seemed fun.
What they did not like:
- The first thing on the list were the ads. While not on the EDU premium site itself, on the log in page there are ads and some of them were not the most appropriate for a sixth grade student. One of the teachers commented that if Glogster really wants itself to be taken seriously about being an educative alternative, then certain ads should not appear on their site. Fortunately no parents made a comment about this, but it was definitely a concern for the teachers and rightfully so in my opinion.
- These fine people were also hoping that Glogster would expedite the grading process, but this was not the case. They found that it took too many clicks to go from one Glog to another. Also some of the font was too small to read and opening up attached documents was definitely a major inconvenience which slowed down the process even more.
- This next one is kinda my fault. When setting up the account for the teachers, I used the Glogster Excel spreadsheet which allowed me to create 160+ accounts in about five minutes. It was very handy, but the cost was that students got a generic log in name. Now these names can be changed in the dashboard, but to change that many manually was just a pain and all teachers usually have more pressing matters to attend to. The problem with the generic log in name was when students left comments it showed up by this generic name, not their nickname. It seemed to take a bit of the fun out of the leaving comments. To be fair, I could have taken an Excel file (created by our gradebook program) and just uploaded it. I realized that a little too late though.
- The students also had exposure to a lot of other Glogs that had been made (not from our school). While this should seem like a good thing, some of the Glogs contained questionable or inappropriate material. It just seemed to be another area to be concerned about. While the teachers didn’t hear the kids talking about some of these Glogs, there was no way to keep them from exploring what is out there. Yikes!
Glogster vs. Facebook
A big question I was very interested in was Glogster or Facebook? If all things were equal the teachers said that Facebook was better. It was easier to jump from one persons profile to another and the comments were easier to track and view. However, parents do have issues with Facebook, so I asked the next logical question. Since Facebook is out, do you think you would use Glogster again? The answer was yes, if some of the issues they did not like could be rectified or if there was nothing better out there.
So in conclusion, Glogster is not the greatest thing since sliced bread and probably won’t transform your teaching, but it does have some good points (for the EDU premium version that is) and is worth looking into. As always, if you’re on the fence, go ahead and just try it. Glogster tries to make it easy for teachers and students alike. If you still need convincing, well I’m afraid this may not be the ringing endorsement you are looking for. One thing to keep in mind is that Glogster seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, and like Edmodo, will probably have lots of changes and improvements come this time next year.
Just food for thought.