Aug 08

Many teachers have shown an interest in using the power of wiki in the classroom. But the learning curve in using wikis can be a little steep. I like to have video tutorials when I am learning new software. I like being able to go through the steps at your own space you’d like to view some video tutorials on how to use a wiki these may be of use.

WikispacesIf you are using a free Wikispace for educators there are some how-to videos here for perusal at your leisure here. This video takes you through the Wikispaces “history” function.

PBWiki have some free wikis for education too. These PBWiki video tutorials at Atomic Learning wikiPBwhich are free until Sept 30th and should be very useful in helping you and your students develop skills and understanding of the use of Wikis in education.

When talking about wiki I always like to refer colleagues to the Terry The Tennisball Wiki by students of Grade 3-4 in Geelong run by John Pearce. To my mind many wiki are in essence like a mini Choose Your Own Adventure story. The CYOB format for storytelling is an engaging writing and reading literacy tool at teachers disposal. Students with iPods may be interested in downloading a free version of a story called ‘The Abominable Snowman’ from this website. InstikiAt my last school I set up an Instiki Wiki and it really helped engage students in a collaborative writing project for a Year 4 English class. As a read/write ‘web’ and functional literacy experience the students built a wiki around their hobbies and tried to add to each others writing - we developed a diverse range of expertise and communication of opinions. To set the wiki up I hosted it on my iBook NB4T which meant the wiki was portable.
Other ways we can use wikis in our teaching?:

1. A list of articles and resources that describe how to use wikis in education
2. A comprehensive list of existing educational wikis that we can learn from

Some other wiki services:
* WetPaint -
* Stikipad -
* OttoWiki -

If you are interested in a first had account from a teacher using a wiki in the classroom you try this podcast from Vicki Davis. “She is known for her award winning class wiki, wiki-centric classroom structure, and use of broad scope of Web 2.0 tools to improve student performance.” The podcast (audio recording) link is add the bottom this page.

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Jul 29

Inspired by a question to Oz-Teachers email list by Ken Price I have modified my reply into this post. Some adventurers are ready to jump into the mosh-pit that is social learning. This is an area that has excited and inspired me for a while - I love the idea of aggregating and value adding to whole-class generated knowledge. Why? - for two main reasons - it helps teachers work smarter by saving them time and being easily able to assess developed understanding + it allows students to tap into the collaborative benefits that come with the social network of their class.

TumblrI have specifically been looking at Inquiry Based Learning via RSS and social networking. The best way I’ve found for the teacher to be able to see an aggregation of all student blogs is to set them all up with Tumblr accounts. I’d do so with a Gmail account. Teachers can quickly generate and assign separate email address for each student. To do this, just add a + sign and the students first name after your gmail address. ( Each student’s username and password will be emailed to you. With Tumblr the students can then also see each others posts via automated subscriptions. Why? - so that they can tap into the wisdom of the classroom mosh-pit.

For example if the teacher to automatically add book/website recommendations into their blogs all students will need to do is subscribe to the teachers tag eg. turns into feed://
This RSS feed will appear in there blog as a mini-post (task) that they can reply to. The teacher can then view their responses. As for a “people who read this book also read these” function I’d also use tag RSS feed. Students could tag specific URLs with “1Aclassrecom” for example.

Let’s also say for example we wanted to provide a mind-map of a book analysis, Gliffy allows teachers or students to set up a collaborative diagram. This is handy for the Tumblr account because Gliffy diagrams can be subscribed to and easily embedded via the “Publish” function. Great for visualizing the development of contextual understanding. I use Tumblr here to aggregate my web2.0 wanderings - Tumblr the easiest way to get content on the web I’ve come across. Organising, valuing and automating the metadata produced via the traditional inquiry based learning process is for me currently the most exciting area of ICTs in education.

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May 04

This video called “Pay Attention” puts into perspective some of the current forces circulating around the industrial age institution we call education. I find the music and context a little grim but the message is worth considering. It was created by Darren Draper in an effort to motivate teachers to more effectively use technology in their teaching. From the TeacherTube notes Darren says:

Since most of today’s students can appropriately be labeled as “Digital Learners”, why do so many teachers refuse to enter the digital age with their teaching practices?

This presentation was created in an effort to motivate teachers to more effectively use technology in their teaching.


Jun 22

I’ve been taking a look at web application based eLearning services. Nuvvo andSo many Web 2.0 choices! Chalksite certainly forge new ground with educators in mind. For educators wanting to run courses online for students to access at home and at school, these simple to use web apps may be an incredibly handy tool to have in the toolkit. While they certainly don’t have the scope of Moodle, Blackboard or WebCT, in time they promise to offer similar functionality. As these web 2.0 apps mature, the simplicity of their implementation is surely going to prove popular with educators. I run an Instiki wiki to host my student’s collaborative writing from my NB4Ts laptop. The ability to view, mark and add notes to the student’s good work from this portable base is a very convenient tool. On the flipside, the set-up of this was laborious and distracted from my planning and DOTT time. This is the exact kind of situation where these new online eLearning services such as Nuvvo and Chalksite start to come into play……


Nuvvo claims to be the first free on-demand eLearning service. Nuvvo uses Web 2.0 innovations to facilitate easy course creation, search, and syndication. Individualvice), Skypewhich allows a person to display teachers to sign up and begin offering courses in minutes. Courses can be private or public, free or pay. Nuvvo has integrated with Skype (peer to peer voice ser his/her Skype status on the site. This means that university students using Nuvvo for example will have access to talk live with their teacher if he/she is a Skype user. Nuvvo says:

Nuvvo is your way to teach on the web. Everyone knows a little bit about something, and this free, AJAX-enhanced eLearning web service is designed to bring out the teacher in all of us. Sign up and build a course in minutes; advertise your course on our eLearning Market to get the word out. Get teaching with Nuvvo, Web 2.0’s answer to eLearning.

Also, there are capabilities in Nuvvo to enable rich media, such as audio and video. It is free to create a course and Nuvvo makes money from ads and by taking 8% of any course fees set by the educator. it looks like they have lots of activity there with courses both free and for a fee, from programming language tutorials to customer service training to foreign language to self-development.

Chalksite offers simple design built on the Ruby on Rails framework and allows educatorsChalksite to post messages, assignments and manage grading. Chalksite allows teachers to create their own weblog and about me pages to help communicate and display biography information which is a great implementation of a blog. The open and intuitive design sets Chalksite apart from Blackboard, Moodle and Elgg. Chalksite says:

It’s the quickest, simplest route to expanding your classroom onto the internet. Teachers, students and parents have a central point to access grading, assignments and messaging. Chalksite is a total web package designed just for teachers, giving you a personal website and tools you actually need without requiring an IT degree to use them.

Chalksite was designed for teachers and tested by teachers at every stage of its development. It’s specifically created to be the easiest path to online learning for real teachers and students — people who don’t have the time to decode complicated software packages or hard-to-follow instruction manuals.

While looking at the Chalksite website I noted it is similar to 37 Signal’s (designers of Basecamp) website and design sensitivities. While I couldn’t find any direct reference to the fabulous web 2.0 company 37 Signals it appears Chalksite have been directly inspired by their CSS and layout.

Chalksite GUI

The thing I like most about web 2.0 apps is their gentle learning curve. Chalksite seems to be a great “stand alone” classroom enhancing product that takes less than 4 minutes to learn. The current free pricing is restricted to 5 students. With the paid pricing starting from US$4.95/month for 50 students. Chalksite does allow unlimited assignments to students/classes with image/file uploading/sharing, a complete web-based gradebook that allows students to view grades, messaging to individual students or entire classes, and a personal website.

I get the feeling that for online courses to succeed, students must be able to become engaged interactively in the learning process through discussion board comments, and plentiful guided course document and assignment postings. The more interactive the site, the more the student will return to the site. For eLearning services such as these to succeed, interactivity and collaborative features will be the most requested features together with an intuitive interface (GUI).


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