Khan Academy Khan Academy is a free website which offers online videos to students in almost every subject area

. Most of the videos, however, focus on the areas of math and science. Khan Academy has two distinct features in that it allows the user to view videos, but it also allows the user to practice what they have learned in class or from watching the videos. The interactivity and ability for students to practice what they have learned is what gives Khan Academy an advantage over a basic educational video site. Students can log into the website using either their Google or Facebook username. Using these usernames, the site is able to track the students progress. Khan Academy creates a “knowledge map” for students in a particular subject area, such as math, and starts at the most basic point being, in this case, addition. As the student works through the problem, they are able to gain hints from the website or can view a video which teaches the concept. The program then keeps track of their answers and how many hints or instruction they receive in order to evaluate whether or not they have mastered the topic. If the student has mastered the topic, it turns blue with a star. Green squares mean that there are suggestions for the student to work on, while orange squares mean that they need to be reviewed. Students will need to go back and work on the topics that need to be reviewed before the website will deem them as proficient on that topic. Khan academy also keeps track of what topics students are working on and where they spend most of their time. Teachers and students can both view this progress and can view this information from a “bird’s eye” view or can drill down to each practice problem the student has worked on. This website helps to instruct students since they are able to watch a video being presented on a concept and then are able to practice that topic and even work on remedial basic concepts that need to be mastered in order to master a higher level topic. Many school districts pay good money for resources such as Apangea or Aleks which offer the same level of instruction except this is free to school districts. Any math teacher would love to use this resource in their classroom because it enables students to work at their own pace and also allows them to master basic mathematical concepts before moving on to more advanced topics. SchoolTube SchoolTube is a website which is based on the same idea as YouTube with the exception that it contains only educational, school appropriate videos. Schools are able to register and upload videos to the site so classrooms are able to view the videos within their district. The website contains videos from several different subject areas such as science, history, math, and the arts, and also includes videos on social topics such as bullying, texting while driving, and how to be a changemaker. The website also has contests for students who upload their videos in order to “inspire students to use digital media skills in the classroom” and to give students a chance to win great prizes. This website is not only geared toward teaching students, but does contain videos on professional development that teachers can view in order to enhance their lessons or get lesson ideas to use in their classrooms. Some of the professional development videos provide educators with ideas on how to conduct a family math night in their district or how to teach math using a SMART board. Also included on this website are videos such as math raps which are educational but also engaging for students. This website gives teachers the ability to find educational videos to help supplement their curriculum whether in a traditional face-to-face classroom or in a distance education setting. Since these videos show projects and, in some cases, actual teachers demonstrating the topic, it is an easy way for teachers at a distance to post a video explaining a concept that needs to be taught visually. Instructors can then supplement the instructional videos with another resource that allows the students to practice what was learned. In a traditional classroom, teachers can use these videos to help students who have missed instruction or for students who need extra practice with a particular concept. This website is a great resource for teachers to get new ideas on how to teach

particular concepts in addition to helping to teach classes from a distance and offer a traditional approach to teaching when it is needed. Piazza Piazza is a free online discussion board for students in a specific class to ask questions of one another and gain responses from both their peers and their instructors. This website is currently being used in many high schools and universities including Stanford, Berkeley, Texas A&M, and Georgia Tech. The advantage of this site is to save instructors from sifting through emails answering the same question multiple times. This site enables students to post a question, anonymously if they want, and then receive responses from other students as well as their instructor. The idea behind this website was started from a woman, Pooja Sankar, who was attending computer science classes and needed help. Google searches were not specific enough for her needs and she spent several, late night hours trying to get the resources she needed. She created this website to help other students who are in the same predicament to get the assistance they need using their classmates and instructors as a resource. According to Piazza’s statistics, the median answer time for a question is 25 minutes which is invaluable to students who are stuck on a particular assignment and need help immediately. Instructors are also able to quickly see what concept students are having the most difficulty with and then can address it either through the forum or in their next class session. Instructors are able to “endorse” student answers so that other students in the class can know that the response is reliable and accurate. In addition, instructors also have the ability to “resolve” an answer so that no other responses will be accepted for that particular question. Instructors and students are able to collaborate and answer questions in a wiki-style method. Responses also come through in real-time, such as a chat room; therefore, students do not need to refresh their web pages to see the responses, but know responses instantly. Instructors are also able to see stats on which students and, even other instructors, are the most active on the forum. Even though Piazza is different than a CMS or LMS, it still has the capability to host course materials and can be used as a forum for class discussions. This resource helps student instruction because it allows students to obtain answers to their questions when they need it, and enables students to work collaboratively without always seeking help from their professor. Even though this resource is geared toward higher education, it can be easily adapted for K-12 schools. Many times, students do not have their homework done on time because they did not understand it. This forum would help them get direction from other students and even the teacher the night the homework is assigned so they do not fall behind in class. Furthermore, the teacher can see what was confusing to students and address it the next day in class. In a distance education scenario, instructors can use this as a discussion forum to talk about chapters read in a textbook in addition to asking questions about certain assignments. This website will be invaluable to many college instructors as well as K-12 teachers looking to encourage students to collaborate and gain answers before getting behind in their instruction. ThinkQuest ThinkQuest is a website, sponsored by Oracle, which allows teachers and students to create and post their own learning projects on any topic assigned. Teachers are able to create a learning project and then allow other contributors, such as students or other teachers, to work on the learning project as well. When designing a learning project, ThinkQuest can support online discussions and the sharing of multimedia, such as photos, charts, and presentations. Once a username and password is created, the creator can generate a project calendar and message other contributors to keep the project on track. ThinkQuest is focused on ensuring that each student’s work and privacy is maintained. Therefore, it is only open to teachers and students who attend accredited schools. Focusing only on allowing students

in accredited schools to participate in the program allows students to freely communicate globally with other accredited schools. Also included in the website is a library of past student projects that teachers and other students can view in order to gain inspiration and ideas for their own projects. The website also supports a professional development opportunity for teachers called, The Project Learning Institute, which trains teachers on how they can integrate project learning into their curriculum to fit the standards. Oracle’s website describes the idea behind sponsoring such a website as helping to teach 21st century skills. Today’s students are vastly different than students of the past. These students need to know how to work on projects with other students, use technology, think creatively, work in a team, and have self-direction. ThinkQuest also has competition for learning projects and offers laptops as prizes for the best learning projects. Using this website in distance education is helpful for assigning students to work on a learning project in a group. Students can work on this project and explore a concept in great depth without needing to ever meet face-to-face. The teachers in these projects can serve the role as facilitator in that they can check in on the project, oversee progress, and message with students to offer insight. Teachers who have participated in this project have stated how using this project has changed their methods of teaching and noticed how it has helped students to think critically, work collaboratively, and be creative. This website is a great method to support learning projects within the traditional classroom or even at a distance and can be used to supplement the regular curriculum. Using this in the traditional classroom will be helpful to teachers looking to help their students develop the 21st century skills that Oracle is also looking to cultivate. Teachnet Teachnet is a free website that teachers can access to gain ideas on almost everything related to teaching. Since the website does not require any monetary compensation from visitors, it does seek to support its site through advertisements. Included in the website are lesson plans, ideas for managing a classroom, and humorous stories to which teachers can relate. The lesson plans included on the website feature ideas from every subject including real world lessons, lessons on parents, and even technology. The website also includes brain teasers as well as ideas for teachers to use during the last five minutes of class to fill time. Interview portfolio ideas and job interviewing tips are included as well for teachers who are seeking to enter the field. If a teacher is looking for a resource and does not find it on the website, Teachnet is interested in knowing what teachers are looking for and will add them to their vast resources. Many teachers have posted some of their “tricks of the trade” on this website and offer them to other teachers free of cost. The mission of Teachnet has remained “unchanged since its beginning: to connect teachers and give them a voice.” The website was started in 1995 by a graphic designer, a writer, and an elementary teacher. PC Magazine, USA Today, and Argus Clearinghouse are among a few of the awards the website has won for their contribution to the education field. It seems as though this website would be a teachers “go-to” place to get ideas on everything from back-to-school to organization to contacting parents. The site is filled with many ideas for new and veteran teachers alike to gain a new perspective for how to make teaching easier and more effective. With many websites for teachers seeking to gain compensation for their lesson plans, it is refreshing to find a website where teachers are open to sharing their lesson plans and classroom ideas to help other professionals. Even though this website is geared mostly toward traditional classrooms, some of the lesson plans and activities can be modified to be used in a distance education setting. The instructor could assign the activities and have students work in a group at a distance in order to achieve the learning objective. Many students will benefit from this website also, as teachers are able to easily find great teaching ideas to implement in their classroom to keep their instruction fresh, and engaging. Furthermore, it helps to get teachers away from a traditional worksheet-type instruction and gives ideas on how to teach students concepts using group and problem-based learning.