My school has a very user friendly web site with links to teachers pages that contain homework assignments, further resources, and discussion tabs; however, few of our students use it. Students have email accounts through this website and their teachers have linked themselves to the student accounts so all a student needs to do is sign in and they have immediate access to our pages. I am looking for suggestions on how to get students using the website on a regular basis.
Your school website seems to be an excellent resource for students to use especially with the easy access to email accounts. Have you considered having teachers create some type of scavenger hunt that requires students to use various parts of the website and the first student to navigate the site and supply all the correct answers gets a prize? Maybe this could become a weekly activity so students would have a reason to be motivated to access the site.
You mention a discussion tab. Could that be used for students to participate in an online forum sharing questions and answers about what they are studying in class? Maybe students could receive points for their participation and/or the content they share in the discussion.
Perhaps teachers could assign homework bonuses available via their web pages. The only problem might be for those students who do not have Internet access at home.
I think if you create activities that require students to make use of the website, then they will get in the habit of visiting the site frequently. I believe students have to see the relevance in using something (such as a website), before they will devote time to it.
Hopefully, others will share some good ideas with you.
I would suggest adding some things that they are required to use on the site. Giving homework assignments in-class and on the site is helpful, but there's no reason to visit. When they see that the site has many resources, they'll decide on their own to visit it.
Daily use is ideal; for example, you might want them to visit a URL in class. Post that on the site, so they can go there easily. For that matter, a homework assignment might require them to visit a URL. You need to make the site a one-stop place for everything they need online in the class and they'll see it as a valuable resource.
You have made some excellent suggestions. Students really have to see worth in what they are assigned in order to be motivated to complete the task. Your idea of daily use is good because as students form habits, they are more likely to follow through each day. I also like your one-stop place idea. Our digital natives are truly a society wanting everything at their fingertips.
In teaching online courses, I have teachers participating in discussion forums. A teacher's web page would be a great place to post daily writing assignments like journal entries for students to create on the site. Also it would be fun to start a story and require students to log into the site and continue the story. That should spark interest to see what others are writing.
I hope others will join in this discussion and share their ideas.