Personal Learning Network day 14– Wikis, Blogs and Collaborations

26 01 2010

I’ve spent the morning looking at the prospects for class wikis and blogs, and the English Companion Ning has proven itself to be an essential resource. Here’s what I found:

To start, I’m interested in how Rob Currin blogged and collaborated with Neil Winton in Scotland as part of his effort to provide his blogging students with a larger audience.   This is the sort of thing that is easily done (and no doubt is already being done) using Penn State’s network of teachers, seeing as how our preservice teachers are spread out in high schools in Pennsylvania and at the Pierre Indian Learning Center in South Dakota, and because of CIRT (Consortium of Intercultural Reflective Teachers), we have teachers in England and Sweden.  Plus we have short-term overseas teaching, featuring practicum placements in Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Turkey, or Wales.  Plus we have quite a few conversations going on in Korea.  I’m interested in how they set things up, and I’d be interested in possibly connecting my preservice teachers and former students (and their students) with people overseas (interested parties please comment below).

Matt Christensen reports:  “On our class blog, I’ve involved artists who entered a global competition to illustrate Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi. Artists from Israel, Germany, Croatia, and New York helped my students think very hard. Yann Martel himself actually joined our discourse, too!”  I’m really interested in getting a conversation going about his Life of Pi project, and to find out just how he got Yann Martel to join the discourse. And did I mention his blog is unbelievable — total eye candy, loaded with multimedia.

[An aside:  A very doable dream of mine, and one of my goals for this semester:  I want to get set up to Skype people into my classroom, and thereby avail the class of a cornucopia of guest speakers.]

Very helpful (as in lifesaving, jawdroppingly helpful) tutorials are offered by Nik Peachey, including, “Using Wikis for Teacher Development,”in which he offers the following class projects:

“How can we use wikis for teacher development?

  • You could use a wiki as a kind of scrapbook to collect together ideas you have on teaching, such as links to or quotes from articles you have read, as well as teaching tips and lesson plans. You could keep your own lesson plans online this way and edit and update them each time you use them. Much of this you could also do on a blog, but using a wiki gives you the opportunity to structure different pages for different topics, like having a classroom management section and a section on teaching pronunciation etc. In this way you could start to collect your own personal teaching manual and, who knows, at some point you might decide to put it live for other people to contribute to or share it with a mentor or peer to help you edit it.
  • You could work with a group of trainee teachers and ask them to create a wiki training manual by adding information to each section as they study on their course. You could then see how well they were assimilating the information they were learning on the course and this would give you the opportunity to revise anything they were getting wrong or misunderstanding
  • You could create a teaching jargon wiki. At the moment I’m working with a group of teachers and I’ve created an IT jargon wiki so that anyone who comes across a term they don’t understand can add it to the wiki and either I or one of their peers can add a definition. They can also continue to refine these definition and add examples as their knowledge grows.
  • You could video yourself teaching, embed the videos, and ask for feedback on your teaching from other peers through your wiki.
  • You could use it to collect and share tips on aspects of teaching practice.
  • You could work with a group of trainers to create a teacher development course book using the wiki.”

In “Using WikisWith EFL Students,” he asks

“How can we use wikis with our students?

  • “You can upload student work for collaborative editing, though you should make sure they are comfortable with this first. If they aren’t you could try uploading some other documents which need correcting or redrafting and get them to work on those instead.
  • Get students to create a story collaboratively. Give them the start or even the start of the first few chapters and get students to add parts to it. The nice part of creating a story in this way is that through hypertext links to other pages you can create ‘back stories’ filling in information about other characters and telling their stories too. You could start this off by creating or copying a short story of fairy tale and creating hyper links to pages about each of the other characters possibly telling the story from their perspective. For example with the story of Cinderella that I have created, you can tell it from the perspective of an ugly sister or from the rat that got turned into a horse! This is a good way to develop some creative thinking skills and help students to see things from different perspectives.
    • I’ve set up an example of this here: http://cinderella-their-story.wetpaint.com/
      Feel free to register and participate or get your students participating in this.
    • Some possible tasks you could set students using this wiki are:
    • Add some adjectives and adverbs to the text
    • Add an extra sentence to one of the back ground stories
    • Try to insert a new character into the text
    • Find words that you don’t understand and add them to the glossary
    • Try to add some definitions to some of the glossary words
    • Write some questions that you would like to ask some of the characters and put them into the to do list
    • Look for questions that someone else has asked about the text and try to include that information in the text.
  • You could use a wiki as a sort of learning record which all the students could contribute to. This could be based around themes, having separate pages within each theme for vocabulary, useful expressions, grammatical structures, or it could be based around grammar and students could research and share what they know about various tenses and verb forms.
  • You could use it to create your own online course book, either working with other teachers or your class. You could get students to select texts and subjects that they are interested in and type / paste them in to pages on the wiki, you or they could then create learning materials to go with the text, as well as adding extra information and background on the them or topic or the grammar or lexis that goes with the text. You would then be able to build on this with other classes.
  • You set up collaborative assignments such as Webquests and get students to use the wiki and work together to produce their outcomes
  • You could upload or link to videos or images and set group or pair work tasks for students to do. You could use the ‘To do’ feature of the wiki to set up tasks for different groups or students.
  • The wiki also has a lot of communication features so you could set up online discussion / forum tasks with students so that they could discuss the story and make decisions about how they want to change or develop it.
  • If you have the means to set up a project with a school in another town or better still another country, you could use the wiki as a cultural research tool. Your students could research the country and the culture of their partner students and create a wiki about it. The partner students could then correct or comment on any errors or misunderstandings of their culture.

Another of Nik Peachey’s Links is “Creating a Wiki”  in which he provides some video tutorials about how to get going on wetpaint, his wiki of choice.

Also, Lindsay Jordan at The University of Bath recorded a relatively comprehensive video entitled  “Blogging With Students: How and Why,” which describes her process of adopting blogs and other learning technologies to support “a community of learning” and facilitate collaborative learning, offering guidelines for assessment and some pedagogical rationale:

In addition, she has posted on YouTube some additional videos, including one by Lee LeFever of Common Craft which offers this overview of wikis called “Wikis in Plain English,” viewed over a million times!

Amazing what you can learn in one morning.  FYI, I followed up with Lindsay Jordan, Matt Christensen, Rob Currin and Nik Peachey in hopes of getting a conversation going.  Part of the reason I like web 2.0 so much is that we can develop collaborations.  I want smart people in my network to provide inspiration and as a check to any misunderstandings I might have.

I welcome your comments.

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3 responses

27 01 2010
January 27: Drum Roll….It’s my very own Personal Learning Network. « Caitfordly Yours

[…] for Wikispaces. Hm. I recently read Jason Whitney’s latest blog about collaboration (“Personal Learning Network Day 14- Wikis, Blogs, and Collaborations“), and the videos he has posted about Wikispaces were extraordinarily enlightening. […]

27 01 2010
teachsimplicity

Thanks for the encouragement and the reminder about my “about me” page – I kept forgetting to update it. It’s good now though – happy reading 🙂 – Laura

4 02 2010
January 27th: Drum Roll….It’s my very own Personal Learning Network « Grow Grow Connect Grow

[…] signed up for Wikispaces. Hm. I recently read Jason Whitney’s latest blog about collaboration (“Personal Learning Network Day 14- Wikis, Blogs, and Collaborations“), and the videos he has posted about Wikispaces were extraordinarily enlightening. […]

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