Tag Archives: Edmodo

The Wiki and the Dodo

Several years ago, a colleague showed me how he uses a Wiki in his class. I remember being impressed with the collaboration between the teacher and the students, as well as the interactions between the students themselves. It was technology at its best. Being used to enhance the learning. The students gained and the teacher gained. It appeared to be a powerful, well thought out use of technology. I even set one up, but never ended up using it live.

If you’ve read my blogs, you know that I am taking an educational technology course. Each week we’ve been working on a different Web 2.0 tool and learning how to use them in an organized manner. This week we revisited Wikis. I started to think of the Wikis that I use regularly. There is Wikipedia. Then there are … um… I think I bought a Bluetooth once and the help page was on a Wiki. So I started to look online for popular Wikis. There are definitely some that do pop up on a Google search. But many of them are old and out of date. I saw Wikis that were not updated in since 2010!! I googled “Best Educational Wikis of 2012 and the list was surprisingly sparse. Of course there were some. When I browsed through them I found that although many were well done, they often reflected the work of an individual rather then celebrating the collaborative nature of a Wiki. A sort of personal website.

The truth is that many of the reasons to create a wiki are outdated. Wikis were touted because of their collaborative nature, their ease of use, and change tracking. There are newer, more effective ways to do that. Google Docs comes immediately to mind. I can create a document that people can edit and add to and track changes through my Google account. What am I gaining by creating a Wiki? The ease of use of a Google Doc is at least as easy, if not easier than the editing tools available on a Wiki. Plus, I can embed my Doc into any website for public viewing. If it is collaboration through discussion that I am hoping to get, there is Facebook and Twitter. I can get instant feedback to whatever I want to know. If my goal is just to get my point out, then a blog or website is the way to go. In class, I would much rather used a closed social network such as Edmodo than to assign them a page in a Wiki. I am hard pressed to come up with a specific situation where I would want to use a Wiki at all.

I am sure you are wondering how I am going to answer Wikipedia and similar sites. I would claim that those were created when Wikis were the best tool. They achieved global recognition and are now firmly planted there as a sort of status quo. I would be surprised if a new wiki popped up and gained popularity to the levels of a Wikipedia.

Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think. Am I missing the boat on this one? Is there still a place for wikis or is it going the way of the dodo? Are there other popular tools that will not be around much longer? I would love to hear what you think.

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Confessions Of An Anti-Social Teacher

This week I started a social network. No, I am not trying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. I have no desire for a billion users. The nine who already signed up are enough for me. This week’s assignment for my Educational Technology class was to create our own social network.The trouble I’ve always had with social networking is that it seems to take up a lot of time that could be better spent accomplishing in other ways. It just seems strange to me when I watch other people lives taken over by the struggle to keep in constant contact with their 247 closest friends.

Besides my reluctance to engage in Facebook style social media, I had another dilemma with the assignment. I couldn’t exactly enroll all of my second graders into my network. They are not yet computer literate for something as complex as this. I wondered who could I even create a network with. Was there anyone who would join? I went ahead anyway and created a social network. I chose Edmodo because it was a closed system. I couldn’t embarrass myself if nobody would see. It was a lonely little network. I could talk to myself, post to myself and reply to myself. I wasn’t sure if when I was posting, I was replying or vice versa. Either way it was a sad, lonely existence for the sole member of my social network. There had to be a better way.

I suggested to the course director that instead of assigning the twenty people in the course to create their own individual networks, let us make one network for twenty people. The idea was that if we all make an effort to post and reply to each other’s posts, we would have, in essence, created our own private social network. It seemed to be within the parameters of the assignment. He agreed that we could do it and reassured me that even if it doesn’t work, I will have gained from the experience. I guess that answer works for anything that you are not risking your life to try.

So, I invited my fellow classmate to join my network. People began signing up. It is impossible to describe the thrill as my idea caught on and people joined the group. We are pushing towards ten members. Most have posted and replied. Conversations have been ping ponging back and forth. Teachers are sharing classroom ideas. Others are uploading their files. It is exhilarating to watch an idea come to life.

Sometimes a person needs to seize the initiative. Pounce on an idea and run with it. See where you end up. Often it will take you to a place that you could not imagine. New vistas may be opened that were previously uncharted. I didn’t intend for this result. I was just looking for a way to complete my assignment. Unexpectedly, my eyes were opened to a brand new perspective.

I still do not have a lot of time for social networking. But now, I must definitely admit that I see the benefits and the draw of a network at a professional level. It brings a level of vitality to the ongoing professional development that a teacher must do to stay on top of their field. By connecting to other educators with whom ideas can be discussed and methods can be perfected, you are creating your own Personal Learning Network.

Will it continue? I don’t know. At what level of involvement? I am not sure. I will see where this trip takes me. I gained from the process. I connected to many other dedicated educators. It will be interesting to see where it goes….and if you see me online, feel free to friend me!!