Web 2.0 for Newcomers

From iTeacher (yet another Australian).

I came across this excellent multimedia presentation on TeacherTube called A New Way to Publish: The Rise of Web 2.0. The presentation is perfect for teachers wishing to learn more about the Web 2.0 phenomenon. It defines Web 2.0, and then it goes on to show classroom examples, as well as instructions on how to begin implementing blogs and wikis. This is really good material for technology novices who resolve to begin using some of these exciting, 21st century teaching tools.

Download Video: Posted by suziea at TeacherTube.com.

An explanation of what Web 2.0 is, a look at how it benefits children, a closer look at blogs and wikis and tips on how to get started.

This video was actually produced by Susie Vesper, a New Zealand ICT facilitator based in Wellington. I follow Susie’s blog and wiki but must have missed this – I think this is a gem to use with those teachers who are not yet convinced about the whole concept of the read – write web! My staff will be watching this before they begin their personal journey into the world of wikis / blogs!

To complement this video I will also direct staff to Andrew’s Web 2.0 Tutorial (he’s the ITeacher blogger).

It was the average, everyday teacher that I had in mind when I created a Web 2.0 tutorial on Wikispaces. I wanted to create an atmosphere where technology novices could get to know some of these new technologies without getting bogged down with computer jargon. I wanted to convey how easy it is to use these technologies, and how the Read/Write Web supports the values and goals of 21st century education.

This tutorial discusses blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and social bookmarking. It provides easy definitions, educational benefits, classroom applications, concerns and solutions, real-world examples from teachers and links to other useful sites. I also include links to more detailed “how-to” tutorials and helpful videos I have found along the way. This wiki is by no means finished, but it is finally in a presentable format. In the true spirit of a wiki, I encourage others to contribute. Feel free to add additional resources and insights. I hope you find this wiki useful in your school as part of a wider professional development program.

You can find the Web 2.0 tutorial at http://web2tutorial.wikispaces.com.

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Australian Bloggers

I have just discovered two great Australian blogs, thanks to Jo McLeay. In one of her recent blog posts Jo mentioned

Just recently I found out from my Twitter network (where else) about the Edtech Crew an Aussie podcast which I’ve been enjoying listening to. This is made by two guys Darrel Branson, (a.k.a. The ICT Guy), and Tony Richards from Learning – Thinking – Playing. From them I have learnt about a number of new things, including the proceedings of a conference called Powerful Elearning which I’m looking forward to exploring. So that’s been great.

I found lots of interesting links, ideas and resources for myself and other teachers in our cluster. Take a look – you may want to add them to your RSS feeds as I have.

Thanks Jo

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Students 2.0

This information about a new website comes from Clay Burrell via Jo McLeay

“Administered,designed, edited, and written by a global mix of students of varying ages, interests, voices, and points of view, Students 2.0 will feature content written by both staff writers and guest contributors. From Hawaii and Washington, from St. Louis and Chicago, from Vermont, New York, Scotland, Korea, and other points on the globe, these writings will be united in one central aspect: quality student writing,
full-voiced and engaging, about education.”

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/gwQOyEwspKY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

This looks to be an exciting venture by a group of committed students. Well worth visiting and watching.

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On a High!

Wow! Two of my recent posts have had an amazing number of comments (for me!) and through this I am feeling more connected to the ‘blogging world’. It was a real surprise to me that many of these commenter’s had links to my blog in their blogroll.  So after nine months of blogging I’m begiining to feel that it’s all worthwhile and it doesn’t matter if I don’t ever get that number of comments again! I guess this is the feeling I want my students to have.

Since my post re apathetic student bloggers there has been a real surge of interest from a large number of students in their blogs. This has mainly been due to new visitors taking an interest in what they are doing. I have also tagged some of them with the latest meme and they have been quite enthusiastic about this.

This is a really cool idea. Its a great way to get people talking and posting on their blogs and also meeting new people (but remembering to keep internet safe).  Hamish

In fact watch my class blog for a new meme aimed at student bloggers and organised by my students. The one thing that the students will want is to keep track of where the meme goes. Any ideas of how to do this would be appreciated  – maybe the memes could be left on a wiki?

While on a roll with ideas, I suggested beginning a students bloggers club in a reply to one of my comments. I’m now beginning to see this as a way of getting other teachers involved in blogs – get their students on board first.  I will need to give this further thought – especially the management of it as I can see that I may be inundated by the response.

Getting Started with Web2.0

This is a great video from Allanahk for those thinking of embarking on a having a web presence for their class.
Download: Posted by AllanahK at TeacherTube.com.

This is my presentation for the Time4OnLine New Zealand Conference that starts on 28 May. Yay- you get a sneak preview! It is six minutes long and here is a pdf of the shownotes! Time4OnLine Conference Shownotes

BTW if you haven’t signed up for the Time4OnLine New Zealand Conference you should head over there now and sign up.

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Student Writing

Bing Miller, The 21st Century School House, writes,

If there’s nothing else I’ve discovered this year during my web 2.0 journey it’s that we, as teachers, have to be just as willing to learn as we expect our students to be. How can we promote 21st Century learning if we don’t model it? What I’ve seemed to discover is that there’s limitless possibilities on how these digital tools can be used. We need to experiment and implement.

How true this is! Unfortunately it becomes quite frustrating or down heartening when some teachers state quite plainly and loudly that they can see no point in blogs or wikis ….. !

Bing was reflecting on a workshop he had recently taken with a group of teachers. I found his comments on the conversations which emerged from the workshop really interesting as they touched on things that I have been wondering as I attempt to get my students more involved in writing posts for their blogs. I am putting the bulk of his comments here for my own reference and also in response to comments to my own questions regarding student blogging. The important thing about the whole topic is that we are prepared to get students involved, and continue to experiment and implement!

What about grammatical and spelling mistakes? The kids still make them, just like they do on old fashioned paper. However, I haven’t seen too much “text-speak” in their writing, using u for you and other common abbreviations. The reality is that the students know everyone is reading (theoretically). Just like any student writing, there are endless possibilities for mini-lessons. What’s great is that the student writing is easy to access for use in a future lesson, whether it’s cutting and pasting it into another form or simply sending the students back to the postings with a task that requires them to re-read, revise or re-think what they or their classmates wrote.
What about commenting on student work?
As far as I know, there’s not a way to do it like we are used to the old-fashioned way, the way many teachers envision it: taking out the red pen. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it will open some of the teachers up to looking at the student’s writing more holistically at first, instead of instinctively tracking down errors. Maybe it will encourage students to write more, eliminating the fear that whatever they do will just come back marked up and looking like Sonny Corleone at a Long Island tollbooth.
But how can we as teachers provide constructive feedback so they can learn and improve?
I agree that having students post comments on a blog limits what the teacher can do when you compare it to traditional in-class essay writing. For me, it has meant I’ve looked at the comment writing as more of a place to “deposit” homework. It is by no means the only place students write. In fact, it has forced me to constantly rethink what I ask the students to do so that they are reinforced that what they write is not simply being checked off and ignored. I take their ideas and incorporate them into class discussions. I’ve projected their words onto the SMART Board as part of class lessons. From a teacher’s perspective, I think I’ve done a better job at that most basic of pedagogical requirements: making learning relevant to the students and connecting new knowledge to prior knowledge. There’s limitless possibilities in how the technology is useful in this area. Konrad Glogowski, for example, offers an nnovative way to “comment on” and assess his students’ work on their blogs. What he describes is more like conversations with the student writers as a way to encourage their growth. Isn’t that where we should be striving as teachers?
How do students revise their writing?
They can’t change their comments. However, there’s nothing says they can’t take their comments and use them as part of another, longer, more formal writing assignment. This is where the limit of using the comment section lies. And this is where more discussion and experimentation needs to take place in the classroom. Discussions about providing students the means in the class to set up their own blog, link to one another, post regularly as part of class. Use the comment section to respond directly to a student’s writing. This might address some of the feedback issues raised in an earlier post. Again, there’s limitless possibilities on how to move in this direction.
But how do we tackle the larger issue of using blogging to improve student writing?

That’s the big question. And that’s where many edubloggers spent a lot of time discussing and exploring. It takes time. It takes initiative. Ideally, it should not be done in isolation.
So what’s next?
That’s an important question. Ideally, I’d like to get my students set up with their own blogs. With individual student blogs, some of the questions regarding individual teacher feedback and collaboration can be addressed. It’s not easy and it requires some planning ahead thinking. We as teachers need to be experts (of sorts) using this technology or else we run the risk that what we do in the classroom will be nothing more than playing around with cool stuff. Ms. Sigman and Clay Burrell have recently addressed this issue. In a recent post, Ms. Sigman says “In other words we can teach in a very techno-rich environment, but unless we put the tools in their [the students’] hands and teach them not only how to use them but how to learn the skills themselves what we teach in class will be irrelevant to their lives.” I agree. It can’t be in isolation and the purpose of blogging, or using wikis, or any other web 2.0 application can’t simply be to just use it. Otherwise, we run the risk of making the use of some of these powerful applications seem like nothing more than things that are used only in a classroom, like writing a five-paragraph essay. The skills behind them have to extend beyond the classroom. As with anything in education, that growth and that learning starts with the teachers. It’s no secret that we have to be willing to grow and learn along with our students.
Here’s where I think I’m echoing the general sentiment of what I’ve been reading these last several months. Patrick Higgins, in discussing virtual schools, says it quite succinctly but right on the nose: “Teaching will be different, and this will happen
very soon. Teaching will require that we are risk-takers, savvy, and cavalier. Teaching will be different, or it will be irrelevant.”

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Why let Students Blog!

From Rachel Boyd,My Journey in ICT & Blogging , comes this.

I have made a presentation on “Why let our Students Blog?” and hosted it on Teacher Tube (also viewable below). I have been meaning to address and this write a post on this for a while: to identify the benefits and reasons why we should have students blogging in our classrooms.

This is a great introduction for teachers who are not yet convinced of the power of blogging for their students.

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21 Classes

If you’re looking for a blog for your class you might want to take a look at a new product posted Open Resource Centre.

Therefore, we asked educational blogger Will Richardson to consult us on specifications for a new product especially designed for teachers and their students.Here are some of the key features of 21Classes

    • Class homepage to communicate with students
    • Independent yet inter-connected blog accounts for students
    • Central console to manage students accounts with control over accounts and content
    • Multiple Options for registration process
    • Review capabilities of student entries
    • Upload images or insert videos
    • Make all or selected students’ writings private
    • Selection of templates or your own CSS editing
    • Customizable headers
    • Hosted application – no installation, automatic updates, no hassle
    • FREE SERVICE with on demand upgrade options

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Edublogs Tips

Here is a great online resource for all bloggers. I wish this had been available when I first started – even so there are still lots of things that I wondered how you did and now thanks to miketemple123, Open Resource Centre, I can now do.

I have been setting up the Edublogs Tutorials site – Getting you started on the road to blogging. This is a free education blogging platform which allows a great deal of functionality
and customisation, but with few guidelines as to how to achieve this.

As I was working with teachers to set up these sites, I thought I’d better get on and investigate the whole process rather than continually bemoaning the lack of guidance.

Still, you can judge for yourselves and if you are looking for a place to host your blog, may I
suggest there’s lots you can do here. I’ve been adding the frillies to the site of late to showcase (not very adeptly) what is possible.

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Online Voting Tool

Quimble – an online embeddable poll for blogs

The easiest way to ask a bunch of people just about anything. You’ve got a question you want to ask a lot of people. Create a poll, enter your friend’s email addresses and boom, you have an instant spot to discuss and vote it out.

And, as you can see, you can just add a bit of code to your blog and it will display the voting panel – great for use in the classroom.