Web Two Telegraph – A Collaborative Web 2.0 Environment

Archive for February, 2008

A personalized search engine

Posted by murcha on February 23, 2008

As I have several (acually, too many!!) blog sites, I wanted to put in place a widget box or link that would allow people to search for posts, topics or themes throughout my blogs, delicious, twitter etc, so lijit looked a distinct possibility. eg A visitor may wish to find any references that I have made to skype in any of my online posts. However, wordpress is fussy about code and the code that I embedded did not give me an attractive search box, just a boring almost non-visible text link. That was disappointing. However, I left the boring text link there and was surprised to see that Barney who must be one of the software producers for lijit emailed me for an evaluation of the link. After voicing my disappointment and contacting wordpress as to the reasons for failing to embed the lijit code, lijit worked further on the code and personalized a badge for me which now sits proudly on my globalteacher blog site. (WordPress blocks javascript.)

lijit badge

To make it easy for readers to navigate all your online sites and to find topics of interest, consider including a personal search engine widget.

 Instructions

To add the search widget (the one of your choice), register for a username and password. Activate your account through the resultant email. Return to site, copy the given  code for wordpress, or choose the one appropriate to your blog. Return to your wordpress presentation tab, choose widgets, add a text widget to your sidebar (drop and drag the extra text option into the sidebar and place in  position of your choice.), Click on the configure button in the top RH corner,>paste the code into the pop up window. Save > view site and a link to the search engine (in my case lijit) should be present. If it’s appearance does not look correct, contact me or the site from whom you got the code and they may have to modify it. Wonderful statistics and weekly feedback is also given. However there are other web2.0 sites who offer this search facility so choose one to suit you.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Peripherals | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

What is a Wiki?

Posted by murcha on February 18, 2008

Several of my dear blogging friends at LeEnchanteur, (whom I have sadly neglected but will get back to, I promise!!) and soul food cafe and the wildgarden, have asked me what a wiki is, and I am sure many of you out there do not know either, so I shall write a post re wikis.

 

To me, wikis can be used for various purposes:-

  • a resource bank and storage area
  • a web page for a school or business
  • an interactive and collaborative tool where either selected persons or everyone can add to, delete, edit etc
  • and many more, dependent only on the imagination of the user

I started with wikis about 6 months ago and now play an important role in my web2.0 life now, including my teaching application.

The following is a definition from the largest and best known wiki of them all:- wikipedia. A wiki is software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.

sample of one of my wikis

Above is a screenshot of one of my wikis that I use for filing all my resources.It is constantly updated and open for all to view but not to edit. It has a vast collection of links, blogs, urls and documentation for the web 2.0 journey I am sharing with my students. They can be accessed by clicking on the links. It is easy to embed videos, podcasts and other web2.0 html. They can be used interactively and collaboratively. A discussion site is present and the history tab allows you to see any editing.

I am also a member of various other educational wikis eg eduwikius, Women of the Web etc My classes have been part of collaborative wikis between other countries. Students have created a talking voki (computer animated ID) and introduced themselves to a school in NZ and in Las Vegas. Teachers in both countries had administrative rights and could add to the wiki or delete as necessary. Time is always a factor and they are still work in progress. I love this wiki of Graham Wegners shared with a school in Alaska. It shows the power of a wiki for collaboration.

Currently, our students are working on 1001 flat tales project at an elementary level (grade 3 and 4) and at the middle school level (years6 and 7). Four schools from USA, two from Canada and two from Australia are involved. Students will each be given a page or space of their own where they will start to put up a little about themselves and start writing their stories. Their partner in another country will comment on their ideas, storylines, accuracy, sentence construction, word fluency, conventions and mechanics etc over a period of time using the 6 traits to effective writing.

Wikis can be closed to public viewing or open with permission for all to edit, add to and delete (this is how wikipedia came about) or may be viewed but not edited unless permission by the space manager is given.
Some of the most popular wiki tools are:

  • Wikispaces – easy to use, great backup service, free to educationalists (make sure you register for the free version if you are in education as it is ad free as well)
  • Wetpaint Our school cluster uses wetpaint as its wiki tool as do other individual members of our school staff. If wetpaint will come to my post and place a comment on it, (which they have done twice)  they deserve 10+ out of 10. They have reminded me that their wikis are free and their educational wikis are advertisement free. Due to their personal interest, I am certain that their support service would be great. Checkout their wikisineducation site. And further,  if you find you like a Wetpaint wiki in the classroom, you can be featured at http://wikisineducation.wetpaint.com/page/What+the+Bloggers+are+Saying
  • pbwiki

Other examples of wikis are

http://aquaculturepda.wikispaces.com/ I love this one by DS Waters – lots of resources and tutorials for web2.0
Wikibooks is a Wikimedia community for creating a free library of educational textbooks that anyone can edit. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms, Web 2.0 Resources | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

My flat classroom

Posted by murcha on February 12, 2008

Today the students were going to have a guest teacher, Mr Jeff Whipple, outlining the nature of a wiki and explaining the nature of the 1001 flat tales global project.  Grades 4 and 5 will work on the elementary wiki with China, Thailand, US, Canada etc whilst grade 6 will be involved in the middle school one. Jeff would use his laptop to demonstrate the wiki.

Using our atlas ascertaining where Jeff is from
However this was no ordinary classroom as Jeff lives in Canada (read his version of our experiences on his blog ). He is the technology educational specialist for his school and is setting up the wiki for the project. With the help of our library  interactive white board, 50 odd students and half a dozen interested teachers watched with amazement, Jeff talk to us from his home, show us his pet cat, outline the project and then with the help of the SMART Technologies Bridgit on the IWB allowed us to view his laptop screen and walk through the wiki. His time was 10pm, ours was 12:00 midday. The weather was sunny and 25 deg C where we live, with students about to go to the pool for swimming classes. 15cm snow and -16deg C was the weather pattern where Jeff lives. Students are now fully motivated to start the project. Atlases came out and we found the city where Jeff lives. A great deal of geography was learned in 30 mins.!! Jeff was kind enough to come back to us 40 mins later to do a photo shoot for our local newspaper “The Warrnambool Standard”. The photographer and reporter had to make a 30 minute drive to our school.
How, did we get to know Jeff, you may well ask? Well, I was trying to sort out our “From Me to You” envelopes in the computer pod last week. My year 11 students were quietly and diligently completing accounting exs when I noticed my laptop flashing. Having forgotten that I was still logged into skype, I found someone was chatting to me.  My curiousity got the better of me.  It was Jeff, introducing himself as he was setting up the wiki for the project. As we chatted, he offered to demo the wiki via skype to our classes. We took him up on that offer. My twitter network through Kim Cofino, from Bangkok, had alerted me to the existence of the project.Skyping with Jeff
The second interesting event of the day, occurred prior to our skype session. I had spent several hours the night before working out a cyber safety lesson. Again, my twitter network came to the rescue with lots of interesting links, url’s, wikis and online videos. I had my year9/10s for a double class first thing this morning, but to my utter dismay, found the internet was down and all my lesson plans with it. Students started writing a post for their blogs whilst the principal and I tried to sort out the internet. Some time later, it was back on. Students quickly checked out their blogs and found they had comments on them, some from our staff, students but others from Holland and the US. Well………..that was it!!! My lesson plans never went into action. Instead, the students initiated their own learning. They wanted to email back the people who commented, some of whom were similar age students in the US. Then, they checked out those student blogs. Students who are often reluctant readers and writers were fully engaged reading the various posts. The boys even found a post on cricket by one of the US students. That encouraged them to wrote a post about the local cricket team they play for.
Next, they wanted to add a clustrmap to their blogs etc. The double was finished all too quickly. An authentic audience makes such powerful learning!!!

dsc00703.jpg….and to top our day,our first two cards from the US schools in the “From me to you” project arrived. Excited students will open them tomorrow morning.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Social networking, Web 2.0 Classrooms | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

Let’s Get Blogging on…..

Posted by murcha on February 5, 2008

Last week, despite personal mental and physical exhaustion coping with first week back at school, one crashed computer lab and intermittent internet access, my students on Friday, set up their own blog space. We decided to enrol with global students, as our experience with edublogs did not work last year. (possibly our school’s tight security.) Following are the steps we took.

Pre-Learning activities

  1. Viewed some online blog sites, including our own backyard site (where I would grab their writing and images and post them online myself) and discussed content and appearance.
  2. One group was given the responsibility of commenting back on a youthradio blog that we will be involved with this year. I quickly checked content and spelling to ensure comments were suitable and discussed etiquette and the need for saying where they were from. (but no personal details!!)

Going online

  1. Each student applied for a blog, checked their emails, activated the response, got their username and password) and then logged on.
  2. Each student had to set a minimum of 5 goals for the year, three had to be school related and two could be personal. (a very interesting excersice and will summarize the results at some stage as it was a rather eye-opening one)
  3. We kept the post simple except for some basic formatting and will look at presentation more fully next week (although the geeks were off and running and found that option early on.)
  4. Students then created a cartoon to illustrate some portion of their blog. Most are still working on this and it does add interest to the post. They created the cartoon, made a screen dump and resized the image and saved it through MS Paint. Then uploaded it into their blog.
  5. I am in the process of linking all their blogs to this blog and will ensure that I have administrative rights over their blogs.

As our students as a whole call themselves technokids, each year level has techno in front of it. Scroll down this blog and some year 9s and 10s (technoteens)  have completed their first post. (eg Tarzy, Dhugsy) Even our challenging group of ex-year 9 boys were focused on the task and enjoyed the challenge.

Evaluation

  • All students, from the least to the most literate, completed 5 goals (only a few struggled to find 5)
  • Would have liked a little more depth to some of their goals and had to push them to explain some of their sporting goals.
  • They enjoyed making cartoons and enhancing the presentation
  • The geeks were off and running – discovering all sorts of areas of wordpress that took me months to find
  • The comments we made on youth radio ended up in Kevin’s spam box. They were quickly retrieved. Hint:  email your host informing them that comments have been made.

Post lesson acitivity: will endeavour to reply to student posts with comments plus try and get form teachers to do so as well.

Postscript Would you believe my digital students (more precisely, the year 10 boys) are still off and running and what it took me 6 months to learn, they are already doing linking their blogs to each other, adding comments, telling the others to hurry up and moderate etc? It is truly, a baby boomer teaching the generation Y. Cant wait to see what they do next and I am sure they will teach me a lot.

Some or most, actually, have now been working on their blogs at home and added extra posts. To check them out try the links called technoteens on the RHS of my blog and try Flick, Tarzy, Glenn, Nat and Chatty for a start. Nat has started to upload the little digital movies that he has made on a movie page.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms | Tagged: | 1 Comment »