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Monday, February 22, 2010

Thing 17

Wikispaces...I'm having some trouble along the way. I tried to apply a widget from The Weather Channel (I got the idea from the mcisd wiki), but I couldn't do it. It said that the text needed to be pasted in plain text, not html, but when I tried to paste it under the "other text" category and not the "html" category, it still didn't work. I'm going to try it again today and see what happens.

The project I decided to do for my wikispaces is going to be time-consuming. Every year for Spanish 1 I have the kids do a travel agency project where they have to plan a one-week vacation package to a city in a Spanish-speaking country of their choosing. I thought I'd do a wiki containing information and links to various countries and major cities. I'm hoping this will save the kids time on searching through websites in the future. I'll include MLA citation links to help them along, too. They are required to correctly site their project. Giving the students the information they need all from one source could save me time in validating websites, and allow me to spend more time helping them with the Spanish part of their project.

To me a wiki is different from a blog in that it can be a place to provide a ton of information and links in a well-organized way. In a blog, perhaps you add a link to one post, but people would have to search for that one post to find it. In a wiki, the links are neatly placed on the side of the page. A blog is written only by one person; others may comment. Multiple people can contribute to writing and creating a wiki. Blogs are world-wide conversations, while wikis are a world-wide sharing of information.

Assignments/projects where a wiki would be appropriate: research- may be taken from the wiki OR may be added to the wiki; group projects such as audio interviews; and video projects (weather forecast in Spanish for example). I know there's more ideas, but that's all I can think of right now.

Assignments/projects where a blog would be appropriate: group discussions about a novel, journal writing, a place to post online quizzes, using a blog conversation to generate thoughts on a particular topic (like reading a newspaper, but instead of getting only a journalist's perspective, students could read various other perspectives on the same topic, too.

I could envision them having trouble including widgets, uploading photos, getting the links to work, forgetting to save after every item that they add (happened to me!). So many ways it could go wrong! Like anything they do for the first time. To decrease potential problems, I think it would be necessary to walk them through each step and practice each skill. It might take a few weeks. Perhaps go to the computer lab for a day and show them on the master computer screen and have them emulate your actions. I'd focus on 2-3 easy tasks the first day such as navigating the wikispaces page. A week or two later we could go back to the computer lab and try another 2-3 skills; this time difficult ones such as adding a widget, and see how they do. By the end of class, students should complete tasks 1, 2, and 3.
After a few weeks of practice with in-class and out-of-class assigned tasks related to the wiki, hopefully students would be ready to start working on full-length wiki assignments. That's my first instinct on how to approach it, but I'm sure there are other ways...

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you're doing a face-to-face "things" class! Very often we take for granted that students know how to do these "things" (after all they're the "digital natives") but that's an urban legend. These kids DON'T know their way around Web 2.0 very well, unless it's Facebook or MySpace.

    Perhaps you could show them a finished product, an exemplar, and then show them step by step the various elements of the page: how to find them, how to embed them, how to cite them.