Glogster EDU is a tremendous tool which allows teachers and students to create jaw-dropping multimedia posters quickly and easily to represent understanding and share information, ideas, and opinions. As terrific as this tool is, there are things you should know about Glogster EDU to help overcome minor obstacles.
1) Setting Up Student Accounts
Glogster EDU generously offers free (as well as premium) accounts for teachers and students. Each free teacher account can register up to 100 student accounts under it. Teachers can see student work, moderate comments, send and receive messages with students, and reset student passwords.
Student usernames are auto-generated and are seven random characters in length, usually beginning with the letter ‘s’ (e.g. “s74c8y3″). With the free version, the teacher is unable to change the student usernames. While some teachers like to create the same password for all students, I don’t recommend it as it becomes too easy for students to sign into other students accounts.
2) Uploading Images Is Sometimes Glitchy
Glogster EDU allows users to upload images to use in a glog (graphical + blog = glog). Once a picture is selected for upload, it typically shows up in the ‘image’ section of the Glogster toolbar. Occasionally, the picture does not appear – but rest assure, it is there. If this happens to students, have them click to a different category such as ‘Graphics’ or ‘Text’, and then back to ‘Image’. Almost always, the uploaded picture appears in the list of images uploaded.
3) Wall Choices Sometimes Disappear
Glogster EDU allows users to select stunning background ‘walls’. By default there are 26 pages of walls to select from. Users can even select their own images to upload as a wall background or can select a solid color. Occasionally, when a user selects a solid color or their own picture for a wall, then wants to re-select one of Glogster’s wall choices, the list of pages is reduced to just a few. Why? I have no idea. The solution? Have students save their current work in Glogster, log out, then log back in and the wall choices re-appear.
4) Sometimes Your Mouse Cursor Disappears on the Poster
The Glogster EDU application runs in Flash through your web browser. Occasionally, when working on the glog, the mouse cursor seems to disappear when placed over the Flash element. I suspect this is a Flash issue and not a Glogster quirk. Regardless, the best way to rectify this is to attempt to log out then log back into Glogster and the mouse cursor re-appears.
5) The Site Sometimes (but Rarely) Goes Offline
Using a web 2.0 application means that you are at the mercy of the site. If the site goes offline, so does your ability to work on your project. Glogster sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) takes their site offline to upgrade certain components. The good news is that all scheduled site maintenance is communicated to users through the Glogster messaging service which can be seen on the dashboard. As you log in with your class, be sure to keep an eye out for messages from Glogster regarding upcoming site maintenance.
6) The Good News is…You can Monitor Student Work. The Bad News is…You can Monitor Student Work
After introducing Glogster EDU to a group of grade 5 students on a Friday, the students gleefully went home for the weekend eager to try their favorite web-based poster application from home. One young student returned Monday morning having created 9 posters, none of them educational in nature and some of them containing content which was questionable in terms of appropriateness for school. The teacher felt compelled to monitor student work and was a bit concerned with the extra work involved in managing the glogs students were creating at home.
My advice is to have a conversation with students and set expectations for use up front. Whatever you agree to as a class, even if you as a teacher don’t check daily on student content, your students will almost certainly self-monitor the work others are posting. At the same time, have a conversation about what types of text comments are appropriate between classmates. My advice to students is that positive comments about someone’s glog are acceptable, and if you wish to give some constructive criticism do it in person.
All in all, Glogster EDU is a fabulous educational tool which can help students communicate what they know or how they feel at whatever ability level they are at and with many many motivating choices. In this sense it is a tool that very much fits with a Universal Design for Learning classroom. Knowing a few of the logistical quirks of this or any tool will hopefully help keep the focus on learning.