Monday, May 7, 2012

My Big Campus - the Long Review Wrapup

This school year, I have been using and reviewing My Big Campus from Lightspeed Systems in my classroom. My Big Campus is an online service that allows schools to create an engaging, collaborative online environment. It allows schools and teachers to create a virtual classroom to use with their students. There is a resource library with videos, web sites, wiki’s and more. You can create groups and blogs and use the messaging system. Teachers can create a classroom calendar and even create, assign, and grade student assignments. The teacher can keep up with what the students are doing through the notification system too. Teachers can upload files to share with their students. It can even be used for staff development and communications and collaboration in place of in-person meetings.

It was extremely easy to set up and use, and there are great help resources, a blog with tips for using it, and a user forum. To get other teachers, or your students, to sign up and connect with you, just send them an invite email through the system, or even generate a unique URL to share with them.

The stand alone version of My Big Campus is free to use and chock-full of some great features. You can also purchase My Big Campus with a Collaborative Web Filter. To find out more, check the “Getting Started” page.

I have set it up with my resource library of files that I usually post on my class website, links that I usually put on my class blog, and use the calendar feature to put in assignment due dates and reminders, test dates and even have school events listed. If you whole school is using it, there is a calendar category for school events and even district events.

The “Your Stuff” section is the one I’ve used the most so far. I’ve uploaded files, photos and links to web sites and even YouTube videos. What I like is that you can filter by type of resource and easily search all of your “stuff.” You can upload class resources and more and share them with students, or other educators. You can also search the Educational Resources Library and see some of the resources other educators have uploaded and use with your class.

The assignments feature is great and allows you to easily assign students work and tasks and manage them and see who has completed what assignments. Students get notified about new assignments so they won’t forget.

My Big Campus has apps for iOS and Android. The apps have most of the functions that the full website does. You can see a screen shot of the Android app below and see all the features it has. The Android app is easy to use and works great. I’ve been playing with it for the last day or so and love it. It allows teachers to access the MBC accounts from anywhere. I like the fact that now I can use it while walking around my classroom working with my students.

Android App:

iOS App:

Another feature is EduTalk. EduTalk is MBC’s “social network for educators”. It is made up of status updates from educators, not students, and allows educators to share resources, tips, ideas and more. It’s a great way to connect with other educators using MBC and share ideas. It’s also great if you have questions about MBC or how to do things.

The calendar feature allows you to add events, reminders, due dates and more and your students can subscribe to the class calendar to stay current. Setting study reminders a couple of days before exams, or a due date reminder a few days before a project due date, is a great way to help your students stay on schedule.

The conversations feature is a great place to hold virtual study and help sessions. It can be in real time, or can be done as you and your students have time to connect. Students can post questions as they study and get help from the teacher or classmates. Teachers can hold study groups and review sessions. This is also good for schools when there are snow days and cancellations, as classes could still “meet” and learn.

The Schoolwork section is where you can assign work to your students and where they find their assignments. It also keeps track of what is graded and what still needs to be graded. I assigned review work before the midterm exam using this feature.

My Big Campus has a lot of great features that make things better and easier for educators and students. You can share files, communicate, assign work, conduct class discussions, hold help sessions online, and create an online environment for your class that is useful and easy to use.

My Big Campus is a very useful and powerful tool for educators and students.  Try it out yourself and see.


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