Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the teacher is sick today

For my year 10 computing class tomorrow I plan to introduce them to the 37 signals writeboard, which is really a simple but very clever wiki.

Here's my plan:

the teacher is sick today – but he will type in lesson instructions from home on this whiteboard – you are able to make comments here too – I wonder how it will turn out? – login and start reading and typing – hope it’s fun!

Anyone who reads this can visit the whiteboard to see how it went. I'll ask the students not to leave any names or personal information seeing how there might be visitors from "outside".


Blogger Tony Forster said...

There will be no visitors without a password

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Darren Kuropatwa said...

Hi Bill,

I tried to get in to look around and perhaps leave your kids a comment but we need a password to get access. ;-)


3:16 PM  
Blogger Jason Plunkett said...

I figure you blocked us from accessing today, so that your students were not to scared to access the site. (ie scared of the people watching)
But now that the day is over can we have access?

5:53 PM  
Blogger Bill Kerr said...

PW: year10comp

34 versions and 244 trashed comments - and some are still going after school! - click on the old versions to see the changes, including comments

it was fun, took on a life of its own quickly

initially lots of comments came up but students were reluctant to alter the main whiteboard - I kept encouraging them to do the latter and eventually all my writing was deleted and they took over

the next step? Not sure :-)

impressed by 37signals, very smooth software

8:11 PM  
Blogger Jason Plunkett said...

An Interesting experiment.

I see what you mean though about where to from here.

How did you use this in the class? With a datashow?
Not much space on the writeboard.. how do you see the comments being used in interaction with the writeboard contents?

Maybe a review?

9:12 PM  
Blogger Bill Kerr said...

This is my second week with this year 10 class and the ability and multicultural range is very broad (includes a few new arrivals from Africa)

I started with, "load firefox, visit my wordpress blog" - which contained the link and PW

The savvy students were assigning themselves dodgy names like "john smith" and typing comments in while the inexperienced internet users were taking their time figuring out how to get started - and others discovered they had already used all their internet balance and couldn't participate

Some students used their real names before I had a chance to ask them not to but that provided an opportunity for me give a quick lesson on safe internet usage. No harm done.

I distributed white board markers and asked students to go out the front and write on the whiteboard, then gave the eraser to someone and invited them to rub off whatever they wanted - then I explained that we were dealing with an electronic version of this and that it was called a wiki - anyone could write, anyone could delete

So, that was my main lesson objective - that the students would learn what a wiki was through immersion

That's part of a broader objective, that my students experience the read / write web - 37signals I think is a great example of this

The actual comments were pretty much what happens with semi anonymous teen chat. My main fear before hand was that they would hold back and not participate much but that was unfounded. I did find it a bit harder to get students to contribute to the white board - as distinct from writing comments.

Two points here.

One, the are already used to chat in other contexts but not used to a wiki, that's new concept for them.

Two, I think they saw that as my territory and the comments as their territory but after a while they got over that, with my urging that it was OK to delete my writing

It was entertaining, everyone seemed to be having fun and the mood was upbeat.

How to integrate this sort of discourse with traditional school educational outcomes? That's a hard one. Any suggestions?

One idea: Encourage small groups of students to setup private spaces and give them 5 minutes of lesson time for a few weeks to exchange ideas there. They would be private, PW protected. Some groups would end up sharing what they are doing there with me (from past experience) so I would learn about them but they would be in control.

Follow up: After they have had some experience using a wiki in their small private groups try again with a whole class exercise and see if the posts become more mature - still searching for a good theme though

Maybe pursue the "teacher is sick" theme further - could I teach a lesson from home in this way? Better stop now, I'm dreaming.

11:42 PM  

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