Tuesday, June 28, 2011

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.

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.

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.

Final Projects and any other missing assignments are due by Friday, July 29th at midnight EST.
Thank you, and as always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Jennifer Hawkins said...

One of the things that struck me in the videos in this weeks session, was the part when they were talking about security of students using wikis. That is always an issue that is looming for educators, mostly because it is very difficult to watch what every student is doing all of the time. One tool that wikispaces offers and it looks like pbwikis might offer is the history. I can see what my students post, when they post it, what changes they have made. It is extremely useful and helpful to see who may have made changes to someone's page (has happened before), or what was added, deleted, etc. It also allows me as the administrator to revert any changes, that may have been inappropriate. Only drawback for me is that it is very time consuming sometimes to review all of the changes. But I wonder if like anything, it get's easier with time when you know what you are looking for.

Karen said...

S8: This weeks video's reinforced the benefits of using wikis. Although they mentioned the drawbacks I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Learning is rapidly moving towards a collaborative being and I think that wiki's do just this. I also really liked the comparison of making a wkik to making a pb&j sandwich. Our students are tech savvy and are able to pick these things up right away. Another thing that was mentioned in the videos is that the students are able to help each other if there is something that one student doesn't understand. This peer-teaching is a very important skill for our youth to master.

I really enjoyed the Answer Tips component on the blog this week. As an English teacher I think this could be very useful for students who struggle with reading comprehension. Having the meaning of words right at your fingertips might encourage struggling students to figure out what certain words mean before reading on.

But I wonder if tools like Answer tips is eliminating the need for students to understand how to use a dictionary and a thesaurus?

Mary said...

I had no idea Google docs was a wiki. I’ve been using it for about a year now and there are some things I love and other things I find frustrating and annoying. I love having access to all my documents without having to download them to a thumb drive. I like the freedom of accessing them from anywhere, anytime and not worrying whether or not the computer I’m using has that version of word or works or apple… I like the idea that I can share a document with anyone and I don’t have to worry if they have the correct word program. I like being able to work with others on one document at the same time and to see the revisions as we go. I like the flexibility of the Google drawing with images.

On the flip side, some people I talk to call Google docs word lite. There aren’t as many bells and whistles. There are a lot of word features that I can’t use in Google. The templates are very limited. Printing is often a pain. I don’t think that Google plays very well with Micro Soft. It is often difficult to convert a Google doc into Word. I can’t always copy/paste into or out of Google docs. I think Google has borrowed a page from Micro Soft in that if you want to rely on one of their products, you really need to use all of them to make things work well together. I have Foxfire, Internet Explorer and now I’ve started using Google Chrome while working with Gmail and Google docs because there is less wait time and everything “Google” runs more smoothly.

I don't like the way my computer stores and accesses my username and password with Google products. I have a number of Gmail accounts to separate personal from work from school and sometimes from one project or another. I find it difficult to have more than one window at a time open and work within my different Google programs. They all want me to be the same user at the same time and get really confused when I jump around. Often times I am only able to use one Google feature attached to a specific username at a time. It won't even let me log into Youtube if I'm signed into Gmail or Google docs with one of my different project accounts.

As with most technology, I have a feeling it is a matter of time before this product improves and eliminates many of the glitches or until something better comes along.

Ms. Steele said...

S8: I liked John Hubbard’s presentation about the pros and cons of Wikipedia. In particular the graphs about how traditionally we understood that increased difficulty correlates with increased quality and how that is changing as we come to terms with collective intelligence. Increased size or openness will ultimately lead to increased quality.

@Jennifer – I too worry about the security of inappropriate comments and with it the pressure to constantly be checking the site. In my limited experience blogging with kids I enabled comment moderation. With each comment I would approve it before it was posted but it was a lot of work. Maybe I need to just take a bigger risk and trust that the kids will do the right thing.

Lori said...

S8 – I agree with Jennifer that the security of wiki’s does worry me a bit. I have seen students misuse a word document in a mean way, so I can only imagine what they could create on a wiki. The benefits of the wiki though (and being an administrator on it) are that we could see those changes and who made them. I think it comes down to educating our students on proper internet etiquette. This may seem like an uphill battle though – we are trying to teach them how to properly use such tools, language, etc and then they can go home, hop on Facebook or MySpace and are left up to their own rules. I do think in the end though, persistence will pay off!

In another breath though, I have to agree with Karen that the benefits of a wiki do outweigh their disadvantages in a classroom setting. There is SO much that can go on when students are helping each other learn. It’s also the idea of taking ownership that I believe, helps create better work, although this was discussed back in Session 2 (or so).

Mary – kudos to you for using Google docs! I have tried and been to PD sessions on it, but I still can’t 100% figure it out. I have used it with other organizations to share files with other members when they were too large to email out, but even figuring that out for me was a struggle. I was just in my Google docs when I clicked on the provided link, and there was stuff in there from ages ago. I think I will make it a goal of mine to figure it out this summer for good. I do see the benefits of having it. I think the issue with the opening in different platforms will (hopefully) work itself out. I had problems with a large PowerPoint once, but not a simple word document. Here’s to hoping it gets fixed or something else comes along! : )

I wonder if monitoring wiki’s and blogs will become something like how we check our email now? Quick, efficient and done without thinking about it!