Tuesday, March 10, 2009

921-Session 8

This week we will be dissecting a wiki. If you would like to start by reading past participants' comments then you will find them here:

Also, someone from class asked for more information on how to get the 'double-click on any word and then get its definition' feature, so if you are interested you may visit here for more information.

I thought a lot about how to address this session and decided to stray from the usual presentation format and teach this session entirely from the blog. I believe that it is always easier to 'show' instead of 'tell,' so the bulk of this session will be spent watching videos that will help clarify the nuances and details that make a wiki such a powerful tool--as well as address the topics laid out in the syllabus: new literacies, wiki benefits, and wiki drawbacks.

Now, just be aware that there is some redundancy in these clips, so feel free to fast-forward through parts that you have already seen.

Let's start with a clip from one of the many companies that offer free wikis for you to use. This one is from PBwiki.com. They claim that making a wiki on their site is as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich. Please keep notes while watching these.

I hope you liked that one. This next video focuses upon how collaboration really works. It is a good transition from our last session on Collective Intelligence.

So naturally, these 'beg the question' about ease of use. Is it really as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich? Well let's take a look at an explanation.

And this one shows you how wikis can help educators educate.

And lastly, we'll address the underlying issue all educators have about using Web 2.0 tools in education----SECURITY for our students.

Now, in the 21st century, it doesn't take long before the major technology giants latch onto any and all good ideas from the small start-ups. So Google has jumped on the 'wiki bandwagon' and created their own variation. They call it 'Google Documents' and the details can be accessed from the link below. Please visit this site and take the online tour. While you are there jot down your ideas and thoughts to aid you in your post-session comments.

You'll immediately notice the similarities between wikis and this new Google tool. Those teachers from the Math and Science areas will find the spreadsheet component particularly interesting.

Google Documents & Spreadsheets

Now, before your head spins off from all the possibilities, I want you to take a break. When you come back we'll take a look at this 4-part online video course, created by the University of Wisconson-Milwaukee. It addresses some of the benefits and drawbacks of wikis. The great thing about it is that it is self-pacing and asynchronous just like this course. Again, I would like to remind you to take notes as you progress through these tutorials, so that you may post quality comments and insights when you have completed everything this week. If you feel part 1 is redundant then please skip forward to 2, 3, & 4.

University of Wisconson-Milwaukee

I hope you enjoyed the variety in this session's presentation and I would like to end this week's posting with a reminder that Deliverable 3 should be posted under Session 12's blog posting, as well as on the wiki.

Also, please keep in mind that the deadlines for D3 and the Final Project will be here before you know it, so please use the next week to get a headstart.

Thank you, and as always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.



Charlotte Lesser said...

Great article in T.H.E. Journal about Top 10 Web 2.0 Tools for Young Learners! Without giving anything away.. ;-) ... #1 is wikis and #2 is Blogs! The list includes some amazing tools that I've never even heard of... just one more thing to go and check out - oh.. who cares.. work is highly over-rated!

Amy Kalif said...

I read your article Charlotte, and I agree--some tools I've never even heard of! I have heard of a Voki, and I have one on my blog thanks to the lovely Mr. Fontaine. Vokis are fun, but not necessarily a powerful tool.

Are there past examples of D3? I don't really know how to begin.

Abbe said...

I think that Glogster is great! That was a good list of Web tools to refer back to-thanks Charlotte! Here is a cool link to a glogster wiki page that has some great resources.
In watching the video from University of Wisconsin- I would agree that people get very emotional about Wikipedia. We try to tell the kids to always use more than one resource when they're looking for information especially when they're searching the free web resources.

vivrelelivre said...

Trust Wikipedia? As a primary source? Never! As a starting point? Not a problem. A few years ago I was not so trusting of Wikipedia...it was fun to go and cruise the vandalism but who could trust (any of) it?
Bit by bit I've watched the safeguards go up...was very shocked the first time I saw a lock but was also impressed...they really WERE policing the information (was never too sure before that). It was interesting to learn more about what was behind the locking of certain pages. I also liked seeing that people have also been locked out.
There was quite a bit in the tutorials that I agreed with. Wikipedia is not foolproof, mistakes...deliberate or not... happen. I have found mistakes in "reliable" sources...I don't really expect them to be perfect either. Generally speaking, what I want is for the sites I use to be as accurate as possible. This is part of the reason why I double check info. If you are in a rush and don't check..shame on you, not your source.
I've also seen the flags on Wikipedia that states the page's info is not fully verified or still needs to be cleaned up. For the most part, the community is trying to be as good as possible.
I also agree with Luke Skywalker.. I want to believe my friends are going to come through. For the most part they do. Contributing to a Wiki is a form of posterity (even though you aren't exactly getting credit) Would you rather have people know that you helped contribute positively or that you are a dope who thought you were being funny and then got a slap on the wrist?
I enjoyed the videos about PBWiki. I've been leaning more strongly towards Wikispaces...primarily because security seems better. The clips have given me some food for thought as is maybe a bit more secure than I gave it credit for. I think I will need to investigate both sites a little more closely before I start hounding my coordinator about starting a test Wiki.

Mrs. Cappadona said...

Carol Cappadona

Watching the videos helped me clarify what a wiki can be used for and the problems and promises of what they can be. My principal came to me recently and asked me a question. They wanted to start a communication vehicle on the web for parents of special needs kids to communicate and share ideas with each other. Initially I thought of a blog – people writing articles and commenting on them and sharing ideas. But then I started thinking about wikis. I went back and told her that a wiki was the way to go – all of the community sharing ideas, commenting and creating pages based on their knowledge and experiences. I also mentioned to her about responsibility and possibility of vandalism. She liked the idea of a blog because it would be moderated by one person who could edit the posts. We are planning a meeting to discuss these ideas and with the videos from this lesson, I’m sure I can convince her of the value of a wiki for a parent community on the web. 1. Collaboration – a wiki is a good place for people to gather and share ideas together. 2. Easy to use – Anyone with a web browser can access the wiki and instantly publish and share. This will require: 3. A shift in the way we think – we will expect that all contributors to the wiki will become responsible digital citizens and 4. Security – the community will set up editors to police itself and revert the page back to responsible edits if there is vandalism.
As a librarian I was aware of some of the pitfalls of Wikipedia and have told students not to rely on it for accurate information and steer them towards World Book Online instead. That being the case, I have sometimes gone to Wikipedia myself to find current topics not in the standard encyclopedia to get a base of knowledge about a topic. From there, we search for other sources to get more information. I was pleased to see that some subjects are locked and that there were flags for unfinished or unverified pages. I had to explain this to a fellow staff member about the unreliability of Wikipedia. He thought Wikipedia was a “real” encyclopedia. I wonder, along with our librarian on the subject of Wikipedia, will it survive or is it a fad? So far, it’s going strong and growing exponentially. Only time will tell.

Mrs. K said...

I really liked this week’s presentation of the material. The videos were very informative and I really liked that they were short, sweet, and to the point. They cleared up many of the questions I was having about wikis. For example, I was concerned about:
•safety - I can keep the wiki private for me and my students
•vandalism – I can go back and see who edited what and go back to a previous version if necessary
•one doing all of the work – I can go back and see who is working and who is getting the credit for someone else’s work
I am beginning to feel a lot more comfortable about wikis thanks to the videos.

Charlotte Lesser said...

I too enjoyed the short videos – I much prefer a succinct delivery of material, rather than chatty. That’s probably because at the moment I don’t have much time in my life for “chatty”! ;-) I enjoyed learning more about wikis and didn’t mind some of the repetition – hearing it more than once helps reinforce it for me. I loved the comment “honor the knowledge that we bring into the room” from How collaboration works video. I guess that’s probably the bottom line for me about a wiki – it’s all about honoring and trusting the other contributing members of the wiki and the work that they do on whatever content the wiki was created to hold.

I got myself a PBwiki account and created a page. It’s amazing – they send you online tutorials to watch at your leisure about how to use their product… and it’s all free – gotta love that! At this point I am still completely unsure about how to use a wiki at work, but that’s mostly because I am completely absorbed in my blog project at the moment. More about that in a separate post!

I think the most important concept that I am getting out of this course is that it is a “shift in the way we think” Helping educators educate. I don’t mind change and try not to be resistant to it, but this shift is potentially huge and I’m still wrapping my mind around it, to be honest. I am talking a lot about this course with my staff and other educators that I interact with and am mostly met with blank looks, or “I don’t know much about that” – it’s a little disconcerting. Even the tech people aren’t really into blogs/wikis. I guess I’m leading the movement in my district, but at the moment it’s the blind leading the blind!!

I explored Google documents a bit, very cool. The templates are awesome and I love the fact that you can email invite people to join and that multiple people can edit at the same time and then save and export back to your computer – the future folks is now! I uploaded a curriculum document that I’m working on and played around with it just to see how it worked.

I was going to skip the first U W video on the history of Wikipedia but I’m really glad that I didn’t – I really guess I didn’t understand all the checks and balances that they have created and ways of monitoring and locking out contributors that “vandalize” frequently. I agree with Carol that I tell my students that Wikipedia can be a stop but not the only one in their research. And I use it myself occasionally. My district is fortunate because we subscribe to multiple online databases for our students and we insist that they use those first, before doing a general Internet search (at least at my level – elem).

so… all for now folks… back to the homework!

Charlotte Lesser said...

OK - here's the update on my blog that I created Great Stone Face Books.

I start blogging this week with my 5-6th grade students!! I updated the blog so that it has a place for all students to comment and cleaned up the widgets (rats!). I'm working with a great teacher who is very open to trying new things. I sent home a letter to parents explaining our blogging project and intro'd it the class last week. This Wednesday I will do a formal lesson on blogging and then give them time - can't wait to see what they do!!

jimmyt said...

In my school, there seems to be no conversations about using blogs or wikis. Although this doesn’t seem to be happening in my school, I have seen first hand evidence of blogs and wikis in colleges. One of my sons came home for the weekend and told me about a project that he was working on in college. He said that his group was communicating and working on the project through a wiki. My other son has been using a blog for the past two years at his college. So I know if these tools are being used in colleges, then it’s our job to help prepare our students to use these tools in their education.

The more I learn about wikis, the more difficult the decision I’m having about Deliverable #3. I was pretty sure I was going to focus on blogs, but after the past few weeks I’m not sure anymore. Wikis seem to have more opportunities and potential educationally (at least it seems that way in the videos).

There are some features of a wiki that I find fascinating for the potential in a classroom, like the communication piece. I also like the safety features which can be a big selling point with administration and parents. I’ll have to think about it a little more before I make my decision.

Mrs. Wright said...

Charlotte, I was really interested in the article you posted, The Top Ten Web 2.0 Tools for Young Learners. I hadn’t heard of many of the tools and it was just what I am hoping to find. One reason for exploring Web 2.0 tools was try to find ways to motivate struggling readers. Besides wikis and blogs, I thought Voki – with a text to speech generator and the Glogster site, especially the more private Edu section, might work too.

I had many questions and concerns about Wikipedia and the videos were a big help. Actually, going through the 5 Pillars helped me understand the scope and reasoning for it. I never thought there would be a code of conduct. It was much more structured than I had imagined. I never thought of an encyclopedia as anything but the beginning of understanding something or checking on a factual point. But some of the Wikipedia topics really give you a great deal of insight into a subject, but I still would not consider it as more than a beginning source. What Wikipedia does have though is really eclectic subject matters, which might mean I would use it more than traditional sources. For students, using a source for research means we have a natural teaching moment to discuss origin of the information and point of view of the author/authors.

One concern I did have listening to the discussion about wikis was the issue of censorship – say in China- but an issue that has the potential to be anywhere or on any wiki….

All of the videos on using wikis are starting to help me feel more comfortable thinking about wikis, but I am a long way from being in a place where I feel “intuitive” about doing wikis as Lizzy Ha says in one of the videos. I find I have some sort of writer’s block for the actual writing and a technology “lag” in implementing. Starting off using a staff Intranet wiki might work in our building to prepare for a change in how we will set up grade level reading classes next year, or a wiki for PD as a place to share on the discussion page how we can improve comprehension skills. Of course, that would mean all or most of the staff would have to willingly participate. I'm not sure if they would feel it's as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich, but it would be fun to try

Suzanne said...

This session was not as overwhelming as some of the previous sessions. I enjoyed the pace of this session and now understand the ins and outs of wikis. I am beginning to lean toward the use of wikis over blogs as far as sharing information goes. I like the idea that the wiki is “three dimensional” and that you can quickly get one up and running. During my years as an engineering assistant in the 1980s, they were looking for people to write software. I spent hours trying to get excited about this new career path but in the end, I didn’t like the idea of leaving at the end of the day with nothing to show for it. It took me one day to write one line of code that could be successfully implemented into our software now it takes one day to set up an entire wiki or blog - I LOVE the idea that you don’t have to know HTML in order to create a wiki and that you do not have to worry about design.

In the second PBWiki clip, one of the teachers states that if something is publicly visible, you have incentive to do it the right way. I have to agree with this statement. When I asked my principal if she would look at my blog, she liked it and immediately linked it to her own blog. I worried about it all day because I hadn’t been ready to share it with the world (or at least the parents) at that point and needed to do some final editing. The fact that the children can start something in class and can finish at home is a great thing. I hadn’t thought about this in my use of wikis and blogs for my class, however, due to the lack of computers, we could do one lesson in class and the students who have computers at home could work on that for homework and I could set time aside for the few students who do not have computers at home to work on the assignment during the school day.

The PBWiki 3 clip shows that you don’t really have to “teach” anything to the kids to get them to use wikis. The somehow know what to do and how to navigate, there was no real learning curve. Trusting the kids is the hardest thing for me right now. I think I have to get used to the idea and really focus on teaching “digital citizenship” prior to introducing any of this technology into the classroom.

Google Documents – what an awesome concept – anyone and everyone can see what you create and the templates and software is already provided.

The sessions on Wikipedia have really opened my eyes to information and misinformation on the web. I found it interesting that the number of errors on Wikipedia were close to the number of errors found on Britannica. This information is unbelievable. I would think that with all of the people editing Wikipedia it would have been full of errors. I have never come across a lock on Wikipedia but like the idea that some type of monitoring is in place. I know the librarians aren’t happy about people using this tool as a reference but I think if you use it as a starting point and verify the information it can be quite useful. I enjoyed the comparison of information from Wikipedia to the library books. In this digital world that we are living in, we seem to be afraid of and questioning the information on the web, however, this video reminds us that we need to be questioning information in books as well.

Charlotte Lesser said...

Hold on to your hats.... guess what the UK has done?? They have adapted Wikipedia to their national curriculum and created their 2008/9 Wikipedia Selection for Schools!!

Here's the explanation straight from the website " This selection of topics have been carefully chosen, tidied up, and checked for vandalism and suitability (by SOS Children volunteers, whom we gratefully acknowledge). We also gratefully acknowledge the Wikimedia Foundation for their support and their agreement to our use of the Wikipedia logo, and tens of thousands of contributors to Wikipedia who have written and researched the content in the first place, including this year adding content where gaps in the school curriculum were not covered."

Mr. Kaczynski said...

Cool stuff but as a classroom teacher I'm still struggling with keeping what I have going.State testing and district initiatives put pressure in competing directions.

I like the idea of wikis and use them myself at times as a way to get to the primary source and then work from there. I have been wondering how I would be able to use one in a class with only a few computers, limited time, and a firewall. I have several ideas that I'm working out on paper to see if they actually will work.

My major problem always comes back to time. Time to make it, time to build it, time to show it, time to make sure it is correct, time to keep track of changes.Any one (or two) of these is not hard but all of them combined with the other time pressures sends me in a tail spin. I'm thinking this is something I need to setup in the summer and build on during the year.

Nickal said...

I agree Jim, the time you need to put into the on going maintance does not seem to out weigh the benefits... I am having trouble getting the kids in my classes use the blog... Also the wikis are blocked in school, so as great as it sounds and as easy as it sounds, right now it is not a option until the tech dept un-blocks it...

Nickal said...

In my clicking link to link and watching videos and other similar videos...I lose track of the time and can never navigate back to where I was... I found a great site that offers teachers a chance to collaborate on projects with other teachers in the world. The Youtube video ( Palm Breeze Cafe ) I was watching calls it the eharmony/myspace of teaching... The video highlights this site, Teachers Connecting , which allows teachers to form a network of other teachers and schedule/collaborate on projects with other classrooms through the use of blogs and wikis. I have added these links to the wiki as well as posting them here. I also posted another link for a podcast for teachers using SMARTBoards that offers awesome links, lessons and ways to make your lessons interactive.

Mrs. Cappadona said...

Nick, I can't find the link to the podcast with SmartBoards. I have a Smartboard and I was wondering how this was accomplished. Can you point me to this link? Carol Cappadona carolcapp@cox.net

Maura McGill said...

First of all, I found the format of this session easier to process. The videos were short, easy to follow and informative. It opened my eyes to the many possibilities of using Wikis and I felt myself caught up in the speakers enthusiasm.
I could definitely relate to the comment that, "Wikis are a shift in the way we think". This certainly pertains to me and I think a lot of other teachers. It is the fear of changing the way you teach, the unknown. Teachers need to change the way they think of students learning.
I had to laugh at the comment it is as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Can it be? It was comforting to hear from the speaker who said, Kids do seem to pick it up and before you know it they are familiar with the format. They can collaborate and share with one another before you know it! It does seem like it is intuitive to most students. I am starting to think that maybe some of my students maybe able to handle a Wiki with parents help at home. [eight year olds...what do you think?] I am hoping that someday it will be as easy as e-mail. I'm sure it will be!
I do agree with the speakers about the importance of teaching Digital Citizenship especially with the older students. This is a concern for me. Students need to be taught about value judgements and be provided with that safe environment so they can talk about what was posted. It is reassuring to know there is the security controls on Wikis so teachers can check the page content and history of entries. This does help in safe guarding the site.
As far as the Wikipedia, I still would not feel comfortable referring students to this site as a source of information. It certainly has some benefits and I liked the idea of sharing information that no one else but you knows. But, again I would stress to students the importance of using more than one source when researching information.
Thanks, Charlotte, for the link to the article, Top 10 Web 2.0 Tools for Young Learners. I agree that technology for young non-readers might be the answer. These students could be motivated by animation, graphics, and sound in these technology tools. The Voki and Kerpoof were interesting sites and could be a real motivating tool to those at-risk students.
I again have to ask the question why doesn't our school have a computer lab when there is all this great technology out there to access?

Nickal said...

Sorry Carol, I posted it to the wiki... Here it is: http://pdtogo.com/smart, it offers video podcasts that show you how to incorporate a lot of different interactive gadgets in to a SMARTBoard lesson... The guys that run it are math teachers, but it offers advice and teaching techniques for all disciplines...

Mrs. Cappadona said...

Thanks, Nick. I looked all over the wiki and couldn't find it. I guess wikis still confuse me!

juliep said...

I feel like I am finally catching up and this last session helped. The videos were extremely helpful and the repetition was needed since this is all so very new to me. The tutorial on Wiki’s from the University of Wisconsin was very helpful and the session were packed full of info. I even sent the link to my ITRT at school so she could take alook at it. We are even trying to do some planning for a Staff Development for the fall for our teachers who are in need of recertification points with our state teaching licenses in VA, hopefully I will have a better handle on all of this by then, but such exciting stuff. I am so excited to begin a wiki with my 4th & 5th graders. The ideas are plenty, now if I can just narrow down what I really want them to accomplish I would feel better about getting their projects off the ground.

One of my main concerns with a wiki is security. Who is writing and editing what? Recently I have had a student attempt to post inappropriate information on our library blog page. She had also gotten a hold of another student’s login info for another account as well and was posing as this other student and sending e-mails from her account. I was very disheartened that this would be happening with a 5th grader. If I open up this wiki idea to my students do I open up more problems? I think possibly, but for only a few of the kids. I think that for the most part the kids are going to do the right thing, one of the comments on the youtube video said something like “if it is online then people will do the right thing”, hopefully this will be true and the problems will be few. I do like that I will be able to track the posting times with time and date stamps and providing they use their correct name I will be able to track the editing as well. I guess until I really get this going I won’t know all the problems until they arise.

I think as with everything that we have come across in recent years that are new, there are many fears of how to use this new technology in our schools in a learning environment but also using it safely is something that we all struggle with. However, I don’t think we will be able to ignore wiki’s & blogs. They are here to stay and we really need to embrace them and teach our students how to use them responsibly

juliep said...
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