This week, my class is working on writing instructions. In the past, I have used a couple of different sites to demonstrate what I would like them to eventually create. I have also had students edit a Wikipedia page as part of the project. I want students to be able to work on something relevant and authentic as part of this activity. In my search for new and interesting sites to use, I found (or re-discovered) these websites:
How To Do Thingshttp://www.howtodothings.com/ : This site is written by “experts, knowledgeable hobbyists and enthusiastic amateurs” and features short articles, mostly in point form, on a variety of topics. You can search for topics or find them by category. There doesn’t appear to be any videos or pictures, but the text is well written and easy to read.
eHowhttp://www.ehow.com/ : eHow is another site written by experts in their particular field. The major difference is the length of articles and the quality of the product. eHow has much more in-depth articles and uses visuals such as photos and videos to illustrate the steps or the final product.
wikiHowhttp://www.wikihow.com/Main-Page : The main difference between wikiHow and many other how-to sites is in the name itself. This is a wiki based site which means anyone can write and edit articles with some moderation happening to make sure things are kept on track. The articles are mostly step-by-step instructions with a short introduction and simple photos to illustrate. Many also have short videos at the bottom and links to more information.
Wired How-To Wikihttp://howto.wired.com/wiki/Main_Page : This another wiki site from the major internet site Wired. Many of the topics are quite unique, if not a little weird, but are sometimes fun discussion starters. Since it is a wiki, anyone can edit or contribute. Most have picture and are longer in length than the wikiHow articles.
Lifehacker How to News, Videos, Reviews and Gossiphttp://lifehacker.com/how-to/ : Along the same lines at Wired, this site has some unusual topics and come from a variety of sources. This is not a wiki site, so many of the stories come from the network of websites under the Gawker banner.
Howcasthttp://www.howcast.com/ : This is one of my favourite sites and has the best selection of how-to videos that I could find. It has a set of videos made by professionals on a variety of topics, but others are also allowed to produce videos following their set template. Short and easy to follow videos make this a plus in the classroom.
Instructableshttp://www.instructables.com/ : One of my favourite how-to sites. It approaches things from the creation side of things. People display photos and step-by-step instructions on how to make things from a variety of sources. Many of these tips are designed to use everyday objects and give them a new purpose, often saving you money.
Wonder How Tohttp://www.wonderhowto.com/ : This is a site that uses a team of writers to create nice, short how-to articles, m
any based on current topics. Well written articles and the ability to comment and follow specific topics makes this a great site.
Videojughttp://www.videojug.com/ : Another site that uses videos to teach on a variety of topics. I have found some of their videos to be quite good, while others are not as professionally done. I also have found some of the ‘experts’ to not be as trustworthy, although this has been great in the classroom as a critical thinking exercise.
Make Magazinehttp://makezine.com/ : This is the online site for Make Magazine and includes very short snippets of information on and links to a variety of topics found online.
MonkeySeehttp://www.monkeysee.com/ : Here you can find a series of how-to videos based on a topic written by experts or businesses. You can also find the transcripts of the videos and they can be downloaded for offline viewing.
wiseGeekhttp://www.wisegeek.com/ : Categorized articles created by a team of writers. Most of the articles are quite short and they also allow for commenting.
FindHowhttp://www.findhow.com/ : This is more of a search engine of how-to articles. You can do a search or can find by categories.
Bukisahttp://www.bukisa.com/ : This site has a very similar look and feel to wikiHow, but without the ability to edit someone else’s article.
Mahalohttp://www.mahalo.com/ : Nice site with articles and videos made by experts. A nice feature is the ability to post questions and have them answer them for you.
5 Minhttp://www.5min.com/ : This is a video site that gathers material from a variety of other websites and categorizes them. Lots of good material from a number of sources all in one easy to search site.
SuTreehttp://www.sutree.com/ : SuTree is another site that gathers videos from various places online. The one notable difference is the ability to create online ‘courses’ that can combine these items and can be a virtual classroom including an online blackboard.
How to Get Rid of Thingshttp://www.getridofthings.com/ : This unique site focuses on how to get rid of things. All of the articles are written by experts and is verified before posting. Another interesting part to this website is that a portion of the revenue from advertising goes towards keeping children in Thailand safe from sexual exploitation.
I hope this has been helpful for you. If you have any comments or additions, please add them to the comment section below or send me a tweet @nathanghall.