Caroline Tees from the British Council Singapore gave a great account of how she’s been using wikis for the past two years. She shared examples of her success in using wikis for:
- individual writing
- collaborative writing
- peer correction
- peer policing
- exam practice
- examples of good writing for our classes
- show off your students’ work to their parents
- correct and learn from common mistakes
The tool she’d used for this was 37 Signals’ Writeboard: which is a simple one-page wiki. It allows multiple authors and editors, version comparison and commenting, all the usual wiki stuff – but on one page: “just like a Word document”, Caroline explained.
Caroline took us step-by-step through the Writeboard set-up and then went on to show how easy it is to use. She added that this wiki tool was simpler to use than other online tools like blogs or more conventional wikis, (I reckon because each Writeboard is only a single page). Writeboard’s simplicity is its strength. Because of this, she explained, any teacher or student can get to grips with it quickly.
She gave some tips on what to watch out for when running a wiki writing activity:
- students misbehaving
- comments (Mother tongue, Singlish or target language?)
- difficulties with email invitations
She also gave tips on how to make it work:
- check the Writeboard regularly
- set very clear instructions
- photocopy screenshot with password
Here’s Caroline’s presentation:
Click to download Caroline’s presentation from ICTLT
Billy Tan and Karen Yap from Innova Junior College showed us the results of some action research they’ve done into how they used the online social bookmarking tool Delicious with teachers and for students.
Billy Tan explained how he’d been testing out Delicious with his General Paper students to help them make connections between issues and motivate them to read more. He showed how students, who had set up their own Delicious accounts, had made connections between different issues within one article by assigning multiple tags to individual articles.
Their exit survey showed that 90% of students liked using it. They found that was an easy and effective way to manage and share online information – all you need is internet access, a browser and to remember your login and password.
Among teachers, their results showed that Delicious allowed colleagues to easily archive and share online resources. Karen Yap showed how tagging makes it easy for teachers to retrieve and organise online information. Their exit survey for these teachers showed that 100% agreed that Delicious is good for sharing, 75% of which strongly agreed.
I asked if they’d had any problems with people tagging this differently or mis-tagging. They said they had. To deal with this they recommended that users agree on how to name tags before setting up a Delicious project to avoid mis-tagging. They added that standardising account names is also a good idea.
Individual or Department Delicious accounts? Both speakers agreed that personal accounts were the best option.
Click to download their presentation from ICTLT.
They also handed out a DVD made by Innova JC called ‘What is New Media?’ which showcases the great stuff they’re doing.
Innova Junior College is the Centre of Excellence for New Media and New Media Arts.
Earlier today I watched an interesting and useful presentation where Peter Kent from ACT Department of Education & training demonstrated best practice in the use of IWBs.
He emphasised that good IWB slides will stimulate intellectual quality by generating quality discussions. He showed how the best IWB slides do this by allowing students to come up with more than one possible answer. A very good point, very well put.
He showed how IWB slides can be made relevant/significant by adding content that is from the students’ context. For example, photos of them, photos of their daily environment, examples of their writing, examples of their art, etc…
He also showed a few very neat ways to do the class register/roll call at the start of a lesson: using photos of students and audio of their voices. This was a nice way to help them identify with other students in their class and see where they fit in.
He also showed how IWB slides can be used to illustrate performance criteria. His example was a series of three videos which together formed a rubric showing different levels of performance (in this case it was of kindergarden kids learning to form a line).
Click to download his presentation from ICTLT.
Earlier today I was at a presentation by Nick Potts, from the British Council Singapore, on the lessons he’s learned from two years of using blogs with lower secondary students in Singapore. He gave an account of all the problems, lessons learned and he also shared strategies he’s worked out to overcome these challenges.
His main point was that these students tend to view (and use) blogs as a means to vent their feelings. He showed us how this manifested in free-form rants, which were far from the aims of his lessons. He confirmed this by showing us the results of survey he asked some students to complete last week.
He was quick to admit that his first attempt at using blogs with these students at integrating blogs into his classes resulted in work that (at best) lacked focus, and (at worst) had these teenagers revealing things about themselves that he was concerned might expose them to risk if the blogs had been in a public space on the web. His blogs were all closed to public access – he chose to use 21 Classes to help address these concerns by keeping the blogs closed and viewable only by his class.
His strategy for dealing with the challenge included setting clearly focused writing tasks, not calling the blog a ‘blog’ in class (instead refering to it as a portal) and starting the blog with very positive and simple writing activities.
One teacher in the audience asked if Nick had used this blogging exercise to explore issues of cyber-wellness and safe practices for minors online. Nick pointed out that he only saw them for two hours a week, so he didn’t have time to explore these issues with his class, although if he had time he would have liked to. It seemed to me that he had already helped his students toward managing these risks by getting them to apply better strategies for writing online than those they’d resorted to before.
Here’s Nick’s presentation: