With the DocentEDU app and/or plugin, this process is incredibly easy to set up. Since being shown the plugin, I've shared it with several teacher friends who generally try to avoid new technologies, and they had no difficulty picking it up and putting it to use.
Before jumping into the review further, let's take a look at an introductory video from the team:
As you can see, DocentEDU is a very simple tool, but one that does its job very well. After installing the plugin/app, all you need to do is visit the site that you would like to turn into a lesson and select the type of content you would like to add from the toolbar on the left side. Then, just write out your question/note/discussion topic.
On the topic of pricing, DocentEDU runs at $40 a year for teachers, and that includes unlimited students and an unlimited number of "Docents" (their term for the webpage lessons that you create using the app).
However, you can also signup for a free trial, which will let you create up to 5 Docents at no charge. I definitely recommend giving it a shot as it's such a powerful tool for turning simple websites into engaging online lessons.
There are several features of DocentEDU that for me, really make it one of my new favorite tools. The first is that the discussions are live, and always updating. What that means is, if a teacher adds in a discussion topic within an article, the students will automatically see what everyone is saying in real time. No need to refresh the page; it will be a live stream of what everyone in the class is talking about.
Second, the DocentEDU team has a great collection of support resources, despite being a pretty small team. They have a YouTube channel showing you how to do just about anything you can think of. And, once you've installed the plugin, you can check out all the sample Docents they've shared as well.
As would be expected, they also have a great system for grading student responses. After your students have completed any assessment portion of a docent, you can filter their responses by class, student, question, or docent in order to simplify your grading process.
And for multiple choice responses, the students do get multiple guesses, but they loose a fraction of the total points each time, in order to keep them from blindly guessing. And you can see all of that within the detailed reports (which are, of course, graded automatically for you - provided they're not short answer responses).
You can also export your grade reports as .csv files in order to easily import them into whatever gradebook system your school might be using.
The final feature that I really love is the ability to turn old word documents and PDFs that you might have lying around (worksheets, labs, etc.), into online interactive Docents.
As long as you can copy and paste your old document into a Google document, and then publish it so it's live on the web, then you can create a Docent from it.
This opens up an enormous number of possibilities for adding in videos, HTML models/simulations, discussions, and questions in order to spice up any old content that you may want to. Plus, being able to embed HTML widgets means there are essentially endless possibilities for adding in interactive content like flashcards, 3D models, animations, and so on.
Overall, I do believe that DocentEDU is a powerful plugin that comes at a reasonable price, especially given its potential to quickly and easily transform online content into interactive and engaging lessons. As I mentioned, you can check out the free trial and create 5 Docents for your classroom to see if it's right for you. But in short, for any school or classroom making the move towards digital content, I would absolutely recommend considering DocentEDU.
The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I was not compensated for writing this review.