Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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:

Spring '09

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.



M.Searle said...

While watching the various video clips this week, I jotted down several words and phrases that stood out. One gentlemen said “kids are on the web all of the time and we want them to be empowered”. I think that this really sums up one of the most important things I’ve realized over the last few weeks. I of course want my students to learn the content but I also want them to be successful in their future careers and teach them to be lifelong learners. A women in the one of the clips commented that using a Wiki in your classroom is a good way to provide students with a safe environment where they can try out these various tools and learn from the good and bad experiences. This is something that I hadn’t really considered but it certainly does make sense. I know that my students are constantly using Wikipedia but I think very few of them really understand how it works. They believe the information they find without questioning it which may prove detrimental one day. By implementing Wikis in our schools, we could hopefully teach our students to be educated Wiki users. One of the terms that I thought was great was “digital citizenship”. This has always been a concern for me (as it probably is for most) in terms of using a Wiki or blog in class. How do you make sure that students are doing so appropriately? To me creating a code of “digital citizenship” is a great solution. I think more and more schools are going to have to look closely at this idea not only in terms of using Wikis and blogs but especially Internet plagiarism, all of which would fall under this umbrella.
Other terms or ideas I liked were that Wikis create a “3-D” place to learn and that they are “not a one way road”. Although I didn’t always agree, I am definitely beginning to see all of benefits of using Wikis in the classroom. Creating an interactive text full of links and videos that students could access from home would be wonderful. Another woman commented that a Wiki is like an “online conversation”. I would love to see my students interacting more and sharing ideas rather than traditional “chalk and talk” type lessons. I also agree that this could be a great way to encourage students to reflect on their own work as well as on their classmate’s.
I found the online course form the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to be quite eye-opening. While I have used Wikipedia before, I didn’t know a whole lot about it. I certainly wasn’t aware of just how huge Wikipedia is and how many sister organizations existed. I also didn’t know it had such a following. I was surprised to learn that in some cases the controversy and vandalism reached a point where mediation was required. At one point the narrator used the term “Wikifanatic”. I would have to agree. It seems as though there are a lot of people out there that are extremely passionate about the things that are written. I was also surprised that studies have shown that there are just as many errors in Britannica as there are on Wikipedia. It did mention that there are debates about the accuracy but it’s certainly interesting to think about. One of the things I found most interesting however was when the instructor presented the idea that although we once thought quality was correlated with difficulty, do we now find it connected to openness. Personally, I would tend to rely on “the experts” whoever they might be rather than a source like Wikipedia but I guess that you have to take into account the accuracy of something written by hundreds instead of just one.

Mrs. McAllister said...

First, I was happy to read Reshaping How Elementary Schools Teach Science. I am a great believer in science based learning by inquiry and I have the option of becoming a part of the researcher in the five-year study that will delve deeper into the benefits of inquiry based learning and working with hands-on experiments. I also think that bringing in technology based inquiries is part of the puzzle. Sites such as ExploreLearning have students perform lab experiments online with electronic manipulatives works well with the teacher being a facilitator or when a student works on their own.
The tutorials from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Wikipedia and Wikis in general were very interesting. There was lots of information that we already went over but some of the facts were important for applying in the classroom especially when it came to the third session on wiki evaluation.
I believed it when the professor mentioned that in a poll of librarians, 50% would refer a patron to Wikipedia as a source for reliable information. Some compared using Wikipedia to “having a stranger take out your tonsils” as you don’t know the knowledge base of those that edit it. Not only do many people use it as a scholarly source but so have reputable news sites. However, I liked the way the professor brought up supposed reputable publishers don’t always get things right. One example was how some international news websites have used “The Onion,” (a web based newspaper that presents fictitious information as real news stories) as a factual source of information. Also, libraries have pseudo-science books such as those with topics on ESP and reflexology with information presented as facts. I found noteworthy that when the Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia were evaluated, they had close to the same number of errors, 123 vs 123.
All in all, there are problems with all types of presentations of information. As Jimmy Wales states about Wikipedia, “It’s pretty good, but you have to be careful with it. It’s good enough knowledge depending what your purpose is.” One of the negatives about Wikipedia is the amount of vandalism and plagiarism. It does happen and even if it’s misinformation and a person is not doing it on purpose, the people (including students) reading it may consider it fact. I’m happy to know about the locking ability Wikipedia has if a certain subject is getting too many negative edits. Teachers must let students know that as with all sources, information found on Wikipedia must be verified. We must have an overarching method of verification of sources; there is a lot of information on the Internet and it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It can be dangerous to say “Don’t use Wikipedia as a source” to your students inferring if they use another source online that it will automatically be reputable. Wikis have grown exponentially in the past 5 years and is ten times larger than Encyclopedia Britannica. People are looking for a quick way to get information. Let’s face it, even online, it’s easier to get what you’re looking for on Google than go onto a library or an encyclopedia site. I do use Wikidictionary a lot as it encompasses the benefits of a dictionary and an encyclopedia in one. Diagrams, pictures and history are all found on the same page of a word or concept you want to find out about. Thank you Dr. Fontaine for the information about settings on the PB wikis. I feel that with practice and time I will become adept with having students using a wiki for what I consider the way it is used best, collaboration and sharing of information for project group work.

Cheryl said...

I really enjoyed the short videos for this session. The repetition was good and I think it helped me understand the differences between blogs and wikis much more than I had in the previous sessions.

I'm still a bit uncertain as to how I feel about using a wiki especially one which would be open to the world. The videos talked about using these tools to empower students. I feel that this is probably very true. Giving students another forum to voice their opinions is a great idea - especially for those who may be uncomfortable voicing them in a large group. Using either a blog or wiki would give these students a chance to formulate their ideas, post them and even edit them.

I wonder about the aspect of wikis that others can simply change the writing of another. I know for myself I labor over what I want to write, put it away, rewrite, etc. I don't think I would feel very happy about someone else making changes to my thoughts indiscriminately. I kept thinking about my student teaching days when I was told not to ever use red pen and to never mark up a student's writing. If I wouldn't mark up a student's paper, why would I feel comfortable changing their writing on a wiki simply because I have the ability to?

I feel that much "teaching" must happen before and during wiki use in a classroom. The notion of "digital citizenship" is an important one. Students need to be aware that what they say and do on a blog or wiki can greatly affect others. How should a teacher monitor the wiki? As was mentioned, blogs can be monitored by a teacher because all posts can be set to be approved before they are posted. Students can be asked to be the "editing community", but the teacher will ultimately be responsible for making sure inappropriate language is not on the wiki. I liked the comment that was made on the video about "being nice to newcomers".

I've used google docs and spreadsheets before. My daughter has been sending me essays to read (and edit) from college and it's so much easier to do this now that I use Google. I really like the templates, too, but found it a bit difficult to search through the vast amount of templates on the site.

Dana Dones said...

One of the most impressive features that I took note of and I’m still trying to work out the kinks in is with the Google Documents. The formats are already set up and I like the idea that editing can take place without sending and receiving multiple copies. What I was unsure of was once I started working with the research paper document I did not know how to make the header bar disappear, but it’s still worth using. How many times have you had to work on a project at work and send it to someone for review and by the time it’s all done you have created 4 copies of the original article. I know I have.

From the video vignettes I heard terminology like digital citizenship. I had never heard that term used before. I thought it was interesting for a kid to have digital citizenship.

I agree that using wikis can be a huge collaborative tool. The one video that educated on how to correct a Wiki once someone has vandalized it was impressive. As soon as the vandal switched the content the person was able to go in and change the content back to the original material. I’m not sure what my comfort level will be with Wikis in the future but I was pleased to see if content can be vandalized there is a way to change it and there are ways to have people banned from commenting in the future.

An additional note of my comfort level with Wikis, one of the videos spoke about the amount of errors Britannica has versus how many Wiki’s have. The major differences are Britannica has be around since I was a young child and I’m sure prior to that. Rarely did you see messages about the accuracy and reliability of the information provided in the Britannica. I will try to incorporate more usage of Wiki’s in general just so I can increase my comfort level. However if I can’t verify the source I will not use it. I am in the military and we always try to trust “but verify.”

Lastly all of the videos were useful and I was able to obtain new sites and resources.

Alexandra Phelan said...

Some aspects were repetitive this week but certainly in a reinforcing manner, not in a negative way. Hearing this information again, with a slightly different take, is helping my confidence, even making me feel slightly more convinced. I tried to highlight a few key points while watching the videos as well. Like M. Searle, I thought that “empowered” was important to think about, teach the kids to use the Internet productively if they are going to be using it anyway. There is a lot of emphasis on “collaboration”, and it seems to be very fitting. I really like the observation that the Internet is “multidimensional”, and things posted are for public view. Certainly we all take a little more pride in work that is displayed for comment and scrutiny.
At my school we use Googledocs to collaborate on certain items but when it is established it must be locked to those that are invited only. Tonight was the first time I had explored the templates and I do not feel very comfortable with starting one yet but it certainly helps to organize scheduling meetings in a coordinated manner.
I come back to trust and security again. Convincing others of this aspect is going to be so challenging. I agree with the educators taking on the role of the educator rather than lagging behind the students. The classroom could be such a safe place to try out these tools but it seems that we all want to take this step forward but we want to be just behind the others that are making mistakes, and security blunders.
I thought the locked sites were interesting, even a bit humorous and I assume that decision is made by the Wikimedia associates? Wikipedia as a place for rumor or place to voice opinions spurred me to look at the Wikipedia page for Tiger Woods, there were a few recent updates but it seemed pretty golf focused.
I try to ‘work smarter not harder’ but I just need to find the time.

The Naz Family said...

Staci Nazareth

Ok, first off, our school has used PB Wiki for a variety of topics, but it really has it's drawbacks. First of all, kids can't all be logged in at the same time- so if you are planning on taking your class to the computer lab to complete a PB wiki- good luck. Kids can get locked out and their comments lost. We got around it by having them type in Word, then copy and pasting into the wiki. If they were locked out, then at least they could re-try.

Secondly, we used wikis to have kids respond to a bunch of discussions about Anne Frank. What was so awesome was the fact that the kids could do so anonymously, and that the teacher could backup the wiki every night with one click. That way, if a "naughty" kid deleted or screwed up the wiki, the teacher could restore it.

I love the idea of having the kids write the chapter or lesson in a wiki or Google Doc which requires both collaboration and evaluation. We are one of the only schools that provides all kids grades 5 though 12 with the full Google suite of products. We have just begun this year creating collaborative projects using Google Presentations, and I hope to continue and branch out into Docs.

And, gosh all of you- STOP TELLING KIDS THEY CAN'T USE WIKIPEDIA. Wikipedia is a great resource, especially as a jumping off point. The study by Nature magazine released THIS YEAR, showed that Wikipedia is as accurate as The Encyclopedia Brittanica website. Should we take it all info found there at face value? No. should kids use it? Yes. What a great place to get an overview, grab keywords, etc. Honestly, many of the textbooks out there have more inaccuracies than Wikipedia.

And yes, I totally agree with the concepts of digital citizenship, but they kids have to do it, not just be told about it. Having them create a wiki that is going to be used by their classmates gives them a real world example of how to gather information and why you want to publish accurate information. Honestly, they are going to need that kind of training in the workforce.

Deb said...

I appreciate the change in format for this session. The video clips about PB wiki were informative and inspirational. Viewing them reaffirmed my belief that lesson plans need to address the many different learning styles of students. I love the idea of creating "3-dimensional" learning opportunities. Students need educational tools that are interactive and collaborative. My understanding is that using hyperlinks on a wiki allows instant access to multiple levels of knowledge, providing enrichment and reinforcement of vocabulary and concepts for individual students who need it. With all of the PD we have received lately on differentiation, one would think administrators would see the value of bringing these tools into the classroom.

One valuable idea from the last few sessions is that we give students a stronger voice by affording them the opportunity to contribute their knowledge online, build on others' ideas as well as edit their own, and receive immediate feedback (from many others, not just a teacher.) I think the process of using a wiki, or other online collaboration tool, strengthens a student's potential for success in a "real world" work place.

Another key idea that I took away from the video is that we need to empower our students by helping them learn how to use these tools responsibly. Web 2.0 is an integral part of our students' daily lives outside of school, so we need to give them opportunity to navigate their way through it in a safe environment.

"Digital Citizenship" is an important concept from this session. I like how Kathleen Ferenz summarized the idea in one of the video clips: "Be polite. Be nice. Be democratic." As teachers, we have long realized the need to instill these tenets in our students to help them become productive citizens. The necessity grows as we increase the level of interaction our students have with Web 2.0. It was reassuring to learn about the password and security measures in place with PB wiki. The page history archive and time stamped entries must be valuable tools in monitoring appropriate use.

The last few sessions have deepened my understanding of collective intelligence and its benefits, but I share Cheryl's concern about the editing/revision of student work on wikis and other online collaboration tools. "Don't attack student writing with red pen," was a message embedded in my student teaching experience as well. I have to play with Googledocs some more to fully understand the options and limitations here, but I wonder if today's preservice teachers are being encouraged to evaluate student writing using this tool. I also wonder if the public visibility of a wiki would be incentive for my students to do their best writing, or if they are so accustomed to posting on MySpace and Facebook that they would continue to neglect proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.