Every day about one in five kids and teenagers eat pizza and when they do they’re getting roughly 400 to 600 extra calories, not counting extra fat and salt.
That’s one of the key points in a study that came out two weeks ago, Jan. 13, in the journal Pediatrics. The study’s abstract offers a great way to to introduce my Science Reporting students to how academic studies and reports can be turned into newsbriefs and articles.
I’ve already got a set of pieces from different publications summarizing the study, ranging from a press release from the American Academy of Pediatrics (“Let’s Talk About Pizza – Study Recommends Including Pizza in Childhood Nutrition Counseling”) to an online newsletter (“Study Proves America’s Kids Basically Live on a Pure-Pizza Diet”). My students and I could talk just about the headlines, but what I’ve been thinking about this morning is the technology of teaching.
How do I get students to access these articles?
I could print them out, but my students are all sitting in front of computers with 24-inch monitors. Why bother? No, the question is how best to have students electronically access them.
Among my options: I could copy and paste the articles into Word documents, and then upload them to the course website as handouts. But if I want the class to get the benefit of seeing the originals, what’s the best ways of doing that?
Last semester I began using Padlet.com. It allows you to drag and drop url’s onto a “board” and then embed the code on a course site or a WordPress theme. The board renders the url as a page image, like the one you might see in a Facebook post. It’s visually attractive, but unfortunately, Padlet seemed to rebel whenever I set up a sequence of pages for students to progress through. (It’s hard to lead a discussion when someone is asking, “Which one are we on now?”)
Today, I tried another option: a Bitly bundle.
Bitly is best known as a url-shortener, making long web addresses into shorter, Tweetable ones. However, the site also offers a free service where you can organize sites into “bundles.” There’s little more to it than entering the address and saving.
It’s certainly not as attractive as Padlet, since it results in text boxes consisting of headlines and copy, all of which you can edit. There are no screenshots, but if the original has an image it will show up. (I’ve only been bundling articles, so far.) The boxes are clean and tidy, and can be rearranged if you want; however, there’s no option for embedding the Bitly bundle on a webpage.
While Padlet has the edge when it comes to visual appearance, Bitly may be faster to use, which is a big selling point, as far as I’m concerned.
I’ll try this out on Monday, when my class meets, and I’ll see how my students like it. If I can get them to get accustomed to clicking the Bitly link – let’s face it, a simple link isn’t very eye-catching – I may start using this regularly.