Introduction: How to Use Instructables at School


Over the years, Instructables has grown and evolved to a site that is both an invaluable resource and a powerful tool for teachers of many practical subjects.

This Instructable is mainly aimed at teachers of all kinds, but students can read it as well, then pass on ideas to their teachers...




All pictures are sourced from either the site itself, or Wikipedia Commons, or created by me, unless otherwise stated.

Step 1: Sign Up!

Firstly, no matter how you are going to use the site, sign up.

If you use your school email account to drop a line to teachers[at]instructables[dot]com, and let them know that you are actually a teacher, you will be rewarded with a free Pro account.

That will give you access to PDF files (potentially very useful in class) and all-steps display of projects (also useful if showing projects on-screen in class).





Step 2: Resources


Most teachers new to the site use it first as a resource - either as inspiration for other projects, or for specific instructions to follow.

As well as searching individual projects, there are a growing number of Guides on the site, which collect together the best projects on a particular theme, or projects which go well together, such as the Guide to Kitchen Chemistry or Pre-school Projects.

As a pro member, teachers can access and print off PDF files of projects they like, or they can look at projects in the "all steps" format.  This means you can open up an Instructable on-screen in your class (on your interactive whiteboard or projected screen), and scroll through the whole project without having to wait for each step to load up.

It is also useful to copy images into a PowerPoint slideshow, add brief annotations and leave the slideshow cycling non-stop on your screen, to remind you pupils of the main instructions of their task.


Step 3: Instructions


You may, of course, want your pupils to follow your instructions in a task, especially if you cannot quite find what you want.

In that case, simply write your own Instructable.

You can then show it to your students, print out the PDFs etc, just as for step 2

Step 4: Showing Off.


If your class have followed an existing Instructable, they will still have pride in their work and want to show off their achievements to the world.

This is a perfect excuse to produce a slideshow on the site.

Take photographs of your students' work, and upload them all into a single slideshow - you and they can share the URL of the project with their friends and family, post it in their blogs or on social networks.

This use is also very suited to the work of younger children, who are less able to take step-by-step photos themselves, and so have to rely on you to take photos of their finished work.


Step 5: Recording Projects


Pupils over thirteen years old can open their own Instructables accounts.

This is an ideal way for them to record their own work - you give them a brief for a project, and they get on and do it, taking photos as they go.

They can work step-by-step, adding photos and information as they go, or write the whole project at once, depending on your requirements.

You may want them to publish their projects privately (non-pro members can "fake" the private function by simply sharing the URL of their unpublished work), so that only those who are given the URL can see them, or you may want them to publish it publicly, getting comments and ratings from the whole Instructables community (which you can include in the grading process).

Recording projects as an instructable also allows pupils to work as a team, or remotely, through the collaborate function (see the "share" tab at the top of the page when editing an Instructable).




Step 6: Videos


There are already a great number of video hosting sites, but embedding* project videos on Instructables has several advantages;
  • It is safe - the moderation of comments on Instructables is much stricter than on sites like YouTube.
  • It is less distracting - they do not get unusual links to follow away from the task in hand.
  • It is filter-friendlier - some schools still block YouTube, but videos embedded here will still play through those filters.
  • They can be collected in groups (see step 7)

*That is, the video is still hosted on Vimeo or YouTube, but the "embed" code is pasted here.

Step 7: Groups

Groups are an under-used feature on the site, but they are perfect for organising your students' work.

First, you create a group of your own (click here to do this), and then instruct your pupils to sign up and join the group.  If you set the group to be moderated, you can restrict membership of the group to your own classes, or whoever else you wish.

You may want to create a single group for all your pupils to join, or maybe one group per class - it's up to you.

When your students create an Instructable, they can then submit it to the group, and all the Instructables created for a single project can be viewed together, without other peoples' work getting mixed up with it.

Your students can also use the group as a focus for their chat, posting forum topics to the group.


Step 8: Legal Stuff


Working with children on the internet can be a headache if you are not prepared for it.  This is a list of the main things to remember:
  • Make sure your colleagues know what you are doing.  Inform your line-manager of your intentions, and explain your rationale for using the site.
  • Keep parents informed.  Rules and laws vary from country to country, even state to state, but you should at least get written permission from parents before your students
    • Sign up to the site.
    • Have their names mentioned on the site
    • Appear in photographs on the site.
  • It is standard practice to use pseudonyms on the internet, to cut down the chance of stalkers or groomers finding students in the real world.  Make sure your students do this, and do the same yourself.
  • Remind your students about the law relating to copyright and digital media.
Your students can still work on projects on the site if they do not have permission to be clearly identifiable, because they can be cropped out of images, photos can be too close in to the project for students to fit, or students' faces can be pixellated in PhotoShop or GIMP.



Step 9: Filter Tips.

There is only one real barrier to using Instructables at school, and that is the filters or site-blocks set up by your school or your school's internet providers.

You may be able to look at the site, and use it freely at home, or even at school, but many schools have different levels of filter or block for different groups of users.  Before you get too carried away with grand plans for using Instructables to document the work of hundreds of students, make sure your students can actually access the site at school!

If the site is blocked or filtered, you need to contact your network manager or computing department head, explain how cool and useful the site actually is, and ask them to except the site from the blocks or filters.


Step 10: Over to You...


That's about it.

Time for you, dear colleague, to finally get on with using this great resource.

Don't forget that teaching is not an isolated profession, and we all learn from the experiences of others, so add links to your class projects or groups in the comments, and help make this Instructable, and the site, better for everybody to use.


Comments

author
ginaraybourn (author)2016-05-17

Hello,

What is the process to open a teacher's Pro account as a homeschool teacher. I am also the president of our local homeschool co-op. The ideas and lessons would be a great addition to our class offerings

Thank you,

Gina Raybourn

author
Kiteman (author)ginaraybourn2016-05-17

It would be just the same as if you were a teacher in a traditional school - follow the link in step one, and if there are any issues with it, drop an email to service@instructables.com to explain what's going on, and they will sort you out.

author
ginaraybourn (author)2016-05-17

Hello,

What is the process to open a teacher's Pro account as a homeschool teacher. I am also the president of our local homeschool co-op. The ideas and lessons would be a great addition to our class offerings

Thank you,

Gina Raybourn

author
Thevanpack (author)2015-04-09

At my High School we use instructables all the time... We use it the most in our engineering programs (my school is an engineering school) I think that it is a great resource for the teachers, and students.

author
Kiteman (author)Thevanpack2015-04-09

That's cool - make sure your teachers know about the freebies in step 1!

author
yapoyo (author)2012-10-26

i thought it would tell you how to use instructables without your teacher knowing

author
Kiteman (author)yapoyo2012-10-27

You *want* your teacher to know!

Show them the site, demonstrate its awesomeness, show them how safe it is, and persuade them to use it in school, then you don't have to sneak onto the site.

author
IamGOD Biotches (author)Kiteman2013-02-26

u talking about instructables? i go to highschool and they don't block it.

author
IamGOD Biotches (author)yapoyo2013-02-26

same, i thought that there were gonna be some prank type things and such.

author
nutsandbolts_64 (author)2011-02-18

Speaking of website filters, why do websites pertaining to pi get blocked at my school? Must have been those sneaky ads floating around. At least Instructables isn't blocked at my school anyway. The only real con is that the only place with wi-fi or any sort of internet access would be the library. That's one of the main reasons our teachers use wireless USB modems on-site, slide-shows or PDF documents (as mentioned). Downside is, not a lot of people know instructables, let alone being a member (again, in my school). Speaking of the Instructables dead-zone at my school, what if that school has no modern presentation media (i.e. projectors, mobile computer units etc.)? It should be something worth brainstorming on your pastime.

author

some parts are blocked like nsw det laptop hacks, why?

<h8>meant to be sarcastic</h8>

author
Kiteman (author)nutsandbolts_642011-02-19

You have wi-fi, but no projectors?

That's an odd set of priorities for your school. I know you're in the Philippines, but that's still an odd priority.

author
nutsandbolts_64 (author)Kiteman2011-02-19

No, you got it the other way; we do have projectors. What I meant was in the case that there were no projectors on-site at the school.

author
2hot2hack (author)2011-04-25

im useing my schoo laptop now on this program

author
The nerdling (author)2hot2hack2012-07-17

9,10,11,12?
mine is year 10 now

author
The nerdling (author)2012-07-17

"you must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with.....A HERRING"
:)

author
HMice (author)2012-03-18

Wait a sec, let me get this straight; if you SAY you're a teacher you get a free pro account? That's weird, and hardly fair to those who are teacher s and didn't know (I'm not though).

author
Kiteman (author)HMice2012-03-19

You have to email from your academic account, or provide some other evidence of your status

author
HMice (author)Kiteman2012-03-19

OK, cool

author
MrC (author)2011-10-09

I’m looking for a Mister “Bogar,” who generated a hilarious rubric for submission to Instructables that I found on the web. In Maine, perhaps?
http://edu583spring09class.wikispaces.com/file/view/instructables+submission+rubric.xls
Seems to be based on How to Make a Great Instructable

My 8th graders will have the option of building a prop for the potential movie version of the memoir we just finished reading and submit their process to Instructables (others will write persuasive letters to film production companies). I was wondering if this Mr. Bogar has been doing this long, and at what grade levels.

Any teachers out there already on this?

author
kaylaangelkisses (author)2011-08-11

the boy in blue is from my old school!!!

author
Kiteman (author)kaylaangelkisses2011-08-11

Really?

That's a coincidence - I grabbed the image off the web.

author
hchapman2 (author)2011-07-31

What about homeschoolers?

author
anaibaf (author)2011-06-06

hi i am in third year engineering electronics and it seems I'm in charge of a new student group projects where I teach and I would like to have a premium account to download the pdf and use to teach them. my name is fabian gallardo and I'm from chile I have 21 years there any mail where I can contact?.
thank you very much I love the page.
my mail is fabiangallardoo18@gmail.com

author
Kiteman (author)anaibaf2011-06-07

Contact details are in step 1.

author
d2j5 (author)2011-05-03

thank god this isnt blocked at my school. they really over blocked stuff, even things relating to schoolwork are blocked giving the teachers a hard time lol

author
Kiteman (author)d2j52011-05-04

Your profile says you're 17, so I guess you aren't a teacher.

If you show them this Instructable, and a bit of the site, they might start to use it themselves, and they could have their own pro account for free.

author
dsman195276 (author)2011-03-10

Good job Kiteman, nice Instructable, I'll have to tell some of my teachers at school to look this up.

I did notice one thing though that seemed a bit off though. The 'filter-friendly' part isn't exactly true. At least for my school, connections to websites like YouTube are completely cut. IE. Embedded videos on Ible's won't play if a filter is in place that restricts access to a site like YouTube.

I think that this is notable because it might give some people the wrong idea. I'd be willing to bet that this varies a lot from filter to filter.

DSMan195276

author
witmoreluke (author)2011-03-01

My school also blocked it, though it was for "Adult Content"... Still haven't seen any.

author
Bitline (author)2011-02-23

I have that same block at my school.

author
mg0930mg (author)2011-02-12

Instructables is blocked at my school for having the forums... It depresses me.

author
Kiteman (author)mg0930mg2011-02-13

Point out to your teacher or network manager that the forums have a powerful "be nice" policy that is actively monitored 24/7.

If you want to PM me your school's email address and the name of your network manager, I will happily drop them a persuasive note.

author
DJ Radio (author)Kiteman2011-02-18

I think some schools block forums because they don't consider them productive and not reliable sources for research projects.

author
Kiteman (author)DJ Radio2011-02-19

There is some paranoia about "grooming" as well.

author
mg0930mg (author)Kiteman2011-02-17

I have a feeling someone did this. Maybe a teacher, because the website is mysteriously unblocked. I am now happy.

author
Kiteman (author)mg0930mg2011-02-18

That could mean that one of your teachers is a member...

Try leaving a picture of Robot in your books until somebody mentions it.

author
nutsandbolts_64 (author)2011-02-18

That's just weird... Terrorist/militia/extremist? Must have been the load of instructables that involve pyrotechnics and ballistics.

author
bertus52x11 (author)2011-02-13

I'll pass it on to the school of my kids!
BTW, what's this offshore rig doing in this I'ble?

author
Kiteman (author)bertus52x112011-02-17

That's supposed to represent "resources", and drilling down into the site.

author
TOCO (author)2011-02-12

My school blocked the website a few years ago. I think that it was because there was an illegal section. But now the site is so much nicer and helpful.

author
JAGGIE (author)TOCO2011-02-15

Hmmm my school district blocked the lyrics to "Ave Maria" that I was trying to use in class so we didn't do it. Now, teacher computers can get more than student computers. That helps some. I CAN get Instructables and have used some projects on instruments and how to make snowflakes.

author
TOCO (author)JAGGIE2011-02-16

Teachers have the same things blocked as students in my school district but they have more privlages such as desktop background and right clicking things.

author
Kiteman (author)TOCO2011-02-13

So tell them that - get the block lifted.

author
TOCO (author)Kiteman2011-02-13

It is a lot more work than it seems. It is blocked all over the school district. I would probably need to find another school that doesnt have it blocked. I would have to go all the way up through a big chain of people. But our school is setting up a new wireless network. I wonder if sites will be blocked on that. It is provided by big name cell phone companies like att and verizon. It isnt wifi so they said that they are giving us a device or something to connect devices like ipads and laptops.

author
fishinigami (author)TOCO2011-02-13

if they don't remove the blocker; and if you really need to, there are a plethora of wonderful ibles on how to get by those blockers (proxies etc.).
where i go all the teachers (including myself) use them (because the filter on our server is ridiculous and it blocks things like, for example, the wikipedia page on Tupperware.)
oops, i got a little of topic...
you might have a chance with the wireless network (i don't know, we've got wifi...)

anyway, goodluck!

author
TOCO (author)fishinigami2011-02-14

wow thats a stupid thing to block. Thats like my school has bing set as the auto search engine when you search something in the address bar but bing is blocked so it will come up with a blocked page.

author
bowmaster (author)fishinigami2011-02-14

Yeah, I use a copy of portable FireFox on a USB drive with FoxyProxy.

author
geekX (author)fishinigami2011-02-13

If you own a laptop you can bring to school, at home go to http://www.torproject.org/ and download tor it's slow but it works

author
bounty1012 (author)fishinigami2011-02-13

Just as crazy as our school blocks the JC Penny website for "Pornographic Material."

author
fishinigami (author)bounty10122011-02-13

XD
wow... thats something!

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