Hey there! Welcome to the site! We’re hoping ALTopedia will be your best source for activities, games, worksheets, and everything else for your English classes.
We’re definitely not the first group of people who have tried to make a site for ALTs and other English teachers to share activities. We think our approach will be unique and help address some of the issues that other sites have run into. Here’s what we think is good about ALTopedia:
- ALTopedia has a database specifically built for the needs of the site. Once an activity is created on the site, readers can find it through the tag system and give it a thumbs up if they like it. Instead of adapting something like wiki or blog software to meet our needs, we wrote the site’s software to do exactly what we needed it to do. That also means that we can change and improve it!
- We’ve made it easy for anyone to submit their own activities. Once you sign up for the site, you can post your own games, activities, or worksheets by filling out a simple form. You don’t have to e-mail anybody or have someone vouch for you. Before the activity shows up on the site, a moderator has to check it first, but it’s a quick process. If you realized you forgot to add some important part of the directions or want to add another file, that’s no problem - you can edit it as many times as you need to!
- The interface is designed to work with mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) and older computers. We know that teachers are often assigned computers that are pretty old, if they’re even given a computer at all! We test the site in IE11 and keep the layout lightweight so the pages load quickly.
- The site is being built to support multiple languages. This is still in its preliminary stages, but our goal is to make the site a valuable resource for teachers all over the world.
- The site runs on Amazon Web Services on a server in Japan. This isn’t the cheapest option, but since AWS provides hosting to sites much larger than us, we can benefit from its bottomless storage space and advanced infrastructure.
Of course, there’s still quite a lot of work we need to do! Jake, the coder, has the following items on his plate:
- Improve the layout! Right now the site is built out of a lot of very simple components of a web UI system called Bootstrap. It's simple, quick, and adapts to your screen size, but without a lot of customization, the components look kind of generic. It should be possible to keep things about as lightweight as they are now, but with a more appealing style. Jake’s going to have to learn a lot of CSS for this one, so it consider the site layout a work in progress over the next few months!
- Comments! Whether it’s suggesting things to improve or pointing out a typo, your activities can benefit from having a lot of different eyes on them. We’re no strangers to how the internet works, so we’re going to ask that comments contain constructive feedback and nothing off-topic or negative.
- Activity file management. Currently you can attach files to your activity, but there’s no way to go in and delete files when you edit the activity. This is going to be pretty important for people who want to edit and improve their activities as time goes on. I’ll try and get this in some time soon!
- A full-fledged activity search function. The idea Jake had behind the tag system was to allow a teacher to specify something like “I’m looking for an activity that is for junior high students using passive grammar in question form that uses both speaking and writing,” and then fire off a search which would find any activities that matched all of those tags. It’s something that’s easy to conceive but a bit technically challenging to build. But once it’s working, it should be a pretty unique and useful feature for ALTopedia!
- Many more grammar tags. There are a huge number of potential grammar points that might come up in class, and we certainly haven’t covered all of them! Drop us a line if you can think of any big ones that we’ve missed. Fortunately, you can edit your activity’s tags if you find a new one that applies to an activity you’ve already made.
We’re excited to see how people will use the site! We’re hoping that by helping everyone put their heads together, we can come up with some great stuff!