Day 4: Teach The Web


We will start our session with a discussion on why we should teach the web in our classes. As educators, we’re called to teach the content from our disciplines. Simultaneously, we aspire to develop critical thinking skills, cultivate citizenship, and empower our students to grow as enlightened individuals. Considering the digital tools we have at our disposal, how can the web be utilized to help us reach these goals? Alternatively, what technologies are being used in the careers of your discipline and how can we integrate these tools into our curriculum to prepare our students? Before we answer these questions, let’s consider the strengths and challenges of the web for enhancing our teaching.

Issues of access are often overlooked when we assume that every student is always connected to the internet. But economic, cultural, and geographic restrictions can limit the ability of students to access the web. Access is increasingly coming at the expense of privacy, so we also want to discuss digital privacy and rights, both for the general user and the student more specifically.

Once they do gain access, students need training in information literacy. We will brainstorm ways to integrate information literacy education in the various disciplines of the participants.

A large part of this discussion will be spent sharing tools, approaches, and ideas that to engage our students.


Illustrate the web (and compare) – We will be repeating our activity from the first day of WebFest to illustrate the web and we will compare our illustrations to see how our understandings of the web have changed.

“Why teach the web?” Discussion – Where does web publishing fit into your discipline?  What parts of WebFest would be valuable for your student to experience? Where do we integrate these skills into our curriculum? What issues around the web are facing our democracy today? These are some of the questions we will tackle as part of our discussion. Be sure to explore the resources section for today as it contains many of the topics we will be discussing.

Explore WordPress plugins – You can add more features to your website using plugins. In particular, consider adding the Jetpack plugin to your website to record website traffic; the Akismet plugin to filter spam; or the Shortcodes Ultimate plugin to add fancy building features to your pages.

Finish your websites – Knowing full well that websites are works in progress, continue editing and building your website until you finish construction. Once finished, be sure to share it appropriately (with your colleagues, students, or on social media for example).


Readings & Videos

Current Issues

Fake News, Digital Polarization, & Information LiteracyDigital Polarization can refer to the use of algorithms in facebook, twitter and elsewhere that tailor your content. While this may be well intentioned, it can lead to polarization along political lines or other socio-economic lines to the point where different groups are seeing different news. Ideas for digital projects related to digital polarization and information literacy can be explored from websites like the Data for Democracy Projects page.

Net Neutrality – The concept behind net neutrality is that internet service providers should not provide different websites and services at different speeds and costs. All of the internet should be equally available. The concern is that if internet providers can offer some services at accelerated speeds or higher or lower costs, it will encourage larger corporations like Amazon and Netflix to pay to squash their competition. For more information see:

Digital Redlining – According to Chris Gilliard & Hugh Culik, digital redlining is “a set of education policies, investment decisions, and IT practices that actively create and maintain class boundaries through strictures that discriminate against specific groups.” Learn more about digital redlining in their blog post.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Selling Your Personal Data Without Your Permission – With recent change in FCC regulations, Internet Service Providers would now be allowed to sell the list of websites you’ve visited and the metadata about your internet usage. Here’s a quick video overview. Protecting yourself is possible but requires money and/or technical expertise. In other words, this is an issue that disproportionately affects lower socioeconomic groups. Here’s a blog post from Bill Fitzgerald.

Student Data Privacy – Audrey Waters is one of the leading writers on both the promises and pitfalls of educational technology. You can start your dive into her work on student data privacy here:

Curriculum Ideas

Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) – Have your students create their own website using OU Create as part of their course. Use this opportunity to engage students in web technologies.

eXperience Play – Engage students in game design, digital storytelling, and web literacy as they create their own text-based video games using the same HTML and web technology skills they’d use when building a website.

Digital Polarization – Integrate source analysis into your courses. The Digital Polarization Initiative offer a great framework to start this process. Learn more here and here. The Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers textbook is another resource when thinking about Digital Polarization. – Close reading of books and journal articles often involves highlighting and making notes in the margins. is a tools that allows you to highlight and take notes in the margins of internet sites. Here are several pieces of literature that are being annotated collaboratively by students: AntigoneHymn to the Aten, and Hesiod, Theogony. Here’s an example of a webpage that is being annotated publicly by people around the world: page with tool overlaid.

Group Blog – To engage students in reflection and engage them in writing for the public, instructors have used group blogs in class. The benefit of the group blog is that it’s combines all of the students work into one website that can be integrated into the course. Here’s an example from an architecture course at our university:

Picture of homepage displaying student blog posts.

Information Literacy & Digital Citizenship – Here’s a textbook that covers web literacy for students as a curricular resource:


Cover of Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Mike Caulfield
Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Mike Caulfield

Many more – These are just a couple technologies that are used on our campus to enhance the learning experience for students. They’re great examples of how the strengths of the web, asynchronous collaboration, peer-peer scholarship, and easy sharing, can be used to engage students. However, they are only two among thousands(+) of available tools.