Tuesday, June 14, 2011

586-921-Session 5 "The World of Wikis!!!"

Welcome to Section 2 of our course

"The World of Wikis!"

This second part of the semester will take us down a new path!

A path that leads to more collaboration--

more cooperative learning---

and more opportunities to create differentiated instruction and visual learning---all with the goal of helping foster literacy, and learning, for our students.

Don't worry if you have barely heard of the word, 'Wiki'. Here is a taste of the excitement that awaits you when you download session 5.

Good luck and take plenty of notes because I don't want to miss any of your ideas, excitement, or insights when you post your comments!

If you're eager to get started, but still have some apprehension then maybe some tutorials might help. I've added some beneath the blog tutorials on the left.

You may also read past participants' comments:
Have fun!
Backup copies of sessions can be found on Authorstream.com Just do a search for edc921 and view the appropriate session.


Eileen said...

S5: Wow, so many good resources. I enjoyed reading Minds on Fire and find the numbers staggering of how many students will be ready to attend a university over 100 Million and that a university would have to build a week to accommodate this growth.

I think the way of future education are courses such as these, where facilities will not have to be built and where universities will educate students globally with classes such as these and they won't even have to leave their homes. I found the virtual classrooms intriguing and wondered if any of our participants have yet used one of those virtual educational settings, yet?

In addition to that I liked the definition of social learning as defined in Minds on Fire as "We participate; therefore, we are." I think I'll use that on my bulletin board this coming year.

It was interesting too to think about the market will try and capture people that use the social network platform to enhance educational discussions even if these people are not enrolled in a class or university, but to capture that huge market for their ideas and then bring those ideas into the classrooms for discussion purposes.


Eileen said...

S5 continued...

I also was thrilled to find the resource teachersfirst.com/content/wiki and from there I located the Skype in classroom resource. This was a particularly good find as this has been a problem for me so far is how to find others outside of my classroom for my classes to correspond with. I knew they were out there somewhere, but didn't know how quite to go about finding them. The skype link was just the thing that I was looking for. Now, the time consuming part of finding the right classroom.

Additionally, this week we are beginning to learn about wikis. I actually started a classroom wiki last year and edit it constantly. I love it. I no longer have to tell my students each and every link to go to and make sure that they type it correctly, etc. On the first day, they all learn about my wiki and all the links are there for them and from home too. It is the best thing since sliced bread. I am hoping to expand on it with this class.

So many exciting things and so little time....

I wonder if this will be the year that we finally collaborate with another classroom?

Karen said...
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Karen said...

S5: There were so many interesting things to focus on while reading Minds on Fire. One thing that caught my attention was the concept of focusing on how we are learning rather than on what we are learning. I think that the students are able to infuse themselves in a topic and learn the facts while becoming a part of it (as was mentioned in the article). Students do this everyday with new technologies, they figure it out as they go and then become experts on it. I thought that the iceberg image illustrated this perfectly.

The other thing that caught my attention was the idea that the sum is greater than it's parts. This is a concept that I have taught by when addressing the importance of group work and group review. Students that are able contribute to a group and able to teach others, therefore cementing the information for themselves. At the same time they learn from what others have to say which can help with concepts that they may be struggling with.

Karen said...

I thought that I knew how to use a wiki but I was surprised how much I didn’t know. I tried to use a wiki on my virtual classroom last year as a review tool but it didn't go much farther than that. Now I realize why...there was so much more that I needed to know before trying to get my students to successfully use a wiki.

The video that Dave asked us to watch had so much valuable information in it. I found myself pausing the presentation to write notes to use in my classroom next year. I think the discussion component for groups to work out ideas before adding it to the page is an excellent idea. I think it is a great way for students to collaborate from home! I also love the built in history page.

I have never thought of using a wiki as a way to reach students in different grades and past students. I understand how this would be useful for networking, collaborating and collective knowledge but I am not sure how I would use this in my class. Right now this is too much of a stretch for me...possibly something to work towards.

I agree with Vicki when she talked about CQ + PQ > IQ.

If students are curious and passionate about something then they will be successful and discover great things. If we are able to get our students curious and passionate then I think we have done our jobs. They will grow up and continue this trend, who knows what could be discovered when curiosity and passion are the motivation!

I am feeling a little overwhelmed with the idea of starting a wiki but I think taking it a little at a time like suggested is the way to go. I think I will experiment with a class wiki at the beginning of the next school year. Vicki's wiki was excellently formatted and I think I will try and model hers. I am definitely going to save that video to refer to when I am ready to create mine. One thing that I really enjoyed was the idea that the teacher becomes the guide on the side and they students become the experts!

I am wondering how teachers balance their time to create and manage a detailed wiki, keep up with other teaching demands and still maintain a personal life?

I am also wondering how you reach students who don’t have Internet access at home?

Lori said...

S5 – So much new information! I’m still trying to wrap by brain around it all! I have never used a wiki in class, or out of class (although does referencing Wikipedia for information count?) I felt like I was fairly tech savvy until now! There is so much out there that I had no clue existed!

Eileen, in response to your question about virtual classrooms, I did set one up this year for the first time for my homeroom class. I taught them Language Arts and used it as a way to get assignments to them (which also saved on paper costs and photocopying, as they could just grab it off my virtual classroom, type right into it, and then submit it on the schools shared drive and I could mark right off the computer). I found it was hard to get the students to keep on referring to it, although I would attribute this to only creating the virtual classroom in February. The precedent that they check the virtual classroom daily/weekly for updates was hard to instil. Next year, I plan on using my virtual classroom and blog right from the very beginning and setting up some good habit with my class. I may also have to copy your idea of having the phrase, “We participate, therefore, we are” on a bulletin board. I also find it a very powerful message!

Karen, I would have to agree with your comment about group work and how the sum is greater than the parts. I find it kind of like “it takes a village to raise a child” or maybe more appropriately for this course, “it takes a whole online community to educate a student”? I feel like we are experiencing a bit of this ourselves right now with this course – it’s very collaborative and we are learning so much from the readings, Prof. Fontaine’s PowerPoint’s and each other. I also agree with Karen when she said that students will be more successful when they are curious and passionate. I think the same can also be said for many adults (and especially educators).

I wonder how I will follow through next year with updating and maintaining my blog and virtual classroom.

I also wonder how parents will react when some of their child’s course work is done online in Language Arts next year. Will I face some criticism because there is no pen and paper involved? Will parents see the benefit of it all?

Mary said...

It's now very obvious to me that wikis can be a powerful learning tool if used well. I participate in a number of PLN wikis and I love that I can pop in and out of the sites to keep up with information. Among others (some that fell by the wayside), I belong to: The Educators PLN; Kindle, Nook Educator’s Group; Teacher Librarian’s Ning; and I’ve even created my own for the librarians in our district to share information and ideas (now defunct). Not to mention the many Blackboard sites I participate in for work. The problem I have is that there are too many for me to stay on top of.

I seem to run hot and cold depending on my work/home schedules and I either feel guilty when I’m not able to keep up or complacent because so much of the information shared does not directly pertain to me. By the same token, I’ve seen some amazing classroom wikis that allow cross curriculum learning and phenomenal collaboration between students in different classrooms and different schools. And I love that Wikis allow different medias, from text, images, podcasts, vodcasts, videos… just think of a need/purpose, you can have it on a wiki.

I considered setting up a wiki to provide tutorials and access to web 2.0 tools for my teachers. I'm not sure my teachers have the time or tech skills to participate without considerable training on the wiki itself. I think a blog is what I'll use to start.

Jennifer Hawkins said...

While reading the Minds on Fire article, one particular concept really stood out for me. The fact that we are social beings and that we learn through our own constructed experiences and social interaction. I wanted my students to learn not only about the topic, but I wanted them to actually be able to apply the topic to real life.

This past quarter I have integrated a wikispace into my classroom. It's originally intent was to have my Chemistry in the Community class collaborate with the Environmental Science class at my school. However, it sort of morphed into my students collaborating with each other and becoming experts in their own respective topics. Granted this was a first trail run, but the students seemed to be engaged and really enjoyed this project. The wiki link is KHSProjectSearch.wikispaces.com.

After reading the text and articles, I realize there is a lot more that I can do with this wikispace. Monitoring the wiki got to be a tedious task, but the end results seemed worth it. I am going to create a new one for my CP Chemistry next year. I am hoping that the quality of the work will increase given it is a CP chemistry rather than a General level chemistry.

I wonder if this will motivate the CP students as much as it motivated the General level students.

MigSteele said...

S5 – I really enjoyed the Minds On Fire article. As a classroom teacher I am always being asked by my students – “why do we have to learn this stuff? I am not going to be a _____________.” To be honest, I often fan the fire a bit for this kind of dialogue. Early on I might even bring it up and ask students why they think it is required for all students to learn science and biology in particular. It can spark some animated discussions. I relish this and jump to the “Did You Know” YouTube and * try * to impress on my mostly tenth graders that the one guarantee in life is that they will need to keep learning new things - forever. The Minds On Fire is more fuel for this discussion.

The second part that I made notes on is the weight of social learning. I feel that I sort of ‘get it’ and understand these issues, but coming from a traditional science/math field it is hard to endorse and effectively implement group work in a professional culture that feels that content is being compromised. I am not sure that this will make sense to anyone but many of my cohort struggle with a balance for individual student accountability and collaborative work. I think the answer is that we must reconfigure “group” work to be more open ended and thus work the curiosity and passion parts [CQ + PQ] into learning objectives/assessments and activities, but easier said than done. I found myself digging through Brown and Adler’s Notes to search for more ideas that will lead me to strategies. I have tons of ideas about how to foster collaboration. The technology makes it so easy but I need to work hard at ironing out the details.

Barbara Connolly said...

In “Mind on Fire” I was struck by the idea of “legitimate peripheral participation” in open source communities where newcomers could learn the ropes through baby-stepping in participation by working on simple tasks in the open source community and then progressing in participation. The analogy to the apprentice system makes sense because students can learn from a “master” such as the teacher modeling good writing and thinking on a blog or wiki. Brown and Adler write of the Decameron web site that “a community like this, in which students can acculturate into a particular scholarly practice, can be seen as a virtual ‘spike’: a highly specialized site that can serve as a global resource for its field.” Something like this web site coming out of Brown University with (hopefully) some of the best professors around, would certainly be worth taking part in and students probably could get a lot out of it. It is where students of literature or Italian “learn to be” scholars of those fields by witnessing how established scholars think, argue, and write.

Unfortunately, when I went to look at the KEEP Toolkit from the Carnegie Foundation, it was closed. My guess is there was a lack of funding and/or interest in keeping it going. This is one of the problems with open source materials is the lack of continuity and accessibility to the materials. There are several open sources for library software for catalogs or circulation systems such as Koha (I think that’s the name), which look great because they’re free. For a librarian to use these in their library, however, they would need to have the time to solve any glitches or bugs in the system themselves because, often, once the software is put up and the excitement about it dies down, it is hard to get help from any one.

Barbara Connolly said...

Eileen, is your class wiki accessible by outsiders (like us)? If so, can you share the link?

Barbara Connolly said...

The reading from the Blog book on Wikipedia brought up a whole bunch of issues for me. I have a love/hate relationship with Wikipedia. Richardson says that the kids are using it anyway, so we should teach them how to use it well by looking at the discussion and history pages. True but the only people who care about teaching to use it well, at least in my district, are the librarians. He quotes Steve Jobs lauding Wikipedia but he does not mention that the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, (http://bit.ly/lRVEF7 ) says students should not use it for research in college. When teaching at the high school level, we should be working towards college level research practices. One of my biggest problems with Wikipedia is that the writing is pretty poor. Some scientific articles I can hardly understand.

Barbara Connolly said...

I wonder which method of transmission, blogging or wikis, are more appealing to students?

Jacque said...

Vicky Davis’s presentation brought up some very interesting points. I had never heard the term “techno-personal” skills, but her description of the ability to actively participate in online environments seemed a perfect description of digital literacy to me. As Davis says, these skills are essential to the future of our students in a global environment. I found it very helpful that she included a rubric and defined some of the stumbling blocks and drawbacks of working with wikis, in addition to all the wonderful uses that they can be put to. Points on making small, quick edits and refreshing frequently to avoid accidentally overwriting another’s changes are great tips that I would not necessarily have considered. I also found it interesting that universities are finding that wikis are being used unethically to post test answers.

It was nice to hear that I am not alone in having to address fears that administrators have about wikis, especially pertaining to who can edit them. It can sometimes be difficult to overcome these fears, especially when those in charge are unfamiliar with technology in general and wikis in particular.

I loved Vicky Davis’s description of how she separates the use of her blog and wiki - wikis for fact and blogs for opinion – what a great delineation! It makes perfect sense, but I have never heard it described this way.

Jacque said...

S5: The examples at the end of "Blog or Wiki" really helped define which tools is better in a certain situation. I tend to think that teachers will gravitate toward blogs because it lends itself toward teacher led discussion, which is similar to the classroom environment. I wonder if I'm right?