WikiEducator

Again some time between posts I really must get better at posting mind you being a web2.0 beginner is not simply a matter of a lack of technical skills but is also about the mental attitudes and habits that web2.0 encourages.

As a web2 beginner the concept of wikis and especially projects such as wikieducator fascinates. The idea of a global community sharing content and pedagogical knowledge for the good of all fits with my philosophy of what it means to be an educator. Especially when we add the concept of creative commons that allows for the reuse and remixing of that content and the power of a wiki that allows for true collaboration.

As with all Wikis, Wikieducator is an ongoing work in progress its success will depend on educators contributing in the spirit of the wikieducator concept.

My interest was sparked by the founder of WikiEducator, Dr Wayne Mackintosh at the ulearn09 conference in Christchurch New Zealand. His obvious passion and commitment to sharing knowledge freely for the benefit of the world’s students was infectious.

Having been infected support in the form of Learning4Content wiki skills workshops has been most useful. The concept of progressive levels of accreditation- Apprentice 1- Apprentice2 – Wikibuddy- WikiArtisan – WikiTrainer-WikiMaster- provides a small extrinsic reward for the learning. No matter what age we are we like to be recognized for efforts we make. I am looking forward to gaining the skills required to contribute resources. In fact this post is a requirement of becoming a Apprentice level1.

This aside the skills gained in the first few days have given me the confidence to make major eidts to a page on wikipedia. In it’s self a step forward for a web2.0 beginner.

First Steps : Educational Uses

It is obvious from the dates on these posts that some time has elapsed. This does not mean as a Web2.0 beginner I have been inactive. It has been decided, that the academic questions raised in previous posts, can only really be answered by reflective practice in context. The intention is to start the journey with some simple educational uses of blogs. The use of the word simple implies that there is a taxonomy of educational uses of blogs, Edublogs makes no pedagogical distinctions nor does Scott Huette (2006) . It appears that part of the intended reflective practice may involve conceptualising that taxonomy.

Taking a use straight from both edublogs and Scott’s lists; using a blog for school/class notices/newsletters, seemed like an interesting and useful place to start. It also could be deemed simple on a possible taxonomy as student/teacher interaction/communication could be one way (teacher to student) and the blog still be successful. Basically there is no student authoring or design required.

So http://mbcnews.edublogs.org/ was created.

The issues encountered for those thinking of similar uses.


Access, inside school requires a hub or internet splash page be provided, remembering url’s is not the easiest thing in the world and expecting the entire student body to place the address in their favourites is not realistic. The solution in this case was to create www.mbc.school.nz as a one stop shop. The address is simple to remeber if outside school and it has been made the default screen for internet usage within the school.

The task of formatting is time consuming. Time is a barrier consistently cited in the literature from Zammit (1992), through Pelgrum (2001) and is still a valid consideration in 2008. This has resulted in a rather functional blog. Cutting and pasting directly from a word document with graphics does not produce th edesired result. The embed code from word creates issues. The solution has been to cut and past into word pad, to remove the code and them paste into the blog. When required simple fixes are made using HTML or th evisual editor.

The question is it being used, had a simple solution in the form of google analytics (a free tool to count the number of visitors to the site each day). There is currently a steady 20 to 30 visits per day, best described as a start. The solution may well be to advertise more consistently.

It was considered prudent to remove some data may identify individual students  leavers, detentions, and new enrolments being typical examples. 

The intention is to continue with http://mbcnews.edublogs.org/ during 2009 if the numbers grow then it will hopefully continue, beyond that?

References

Pelgrum, J. W. (2000). Obstacles to the integration of ICT in education: Results from a worldwide educational assessment. Computers & Education Vol 37, pp.163–178.

Zammit, S, A. (1992). Factors facilitating or hindering the use of computers in schools. Educational Research, Vol 34, (1), pp. 57 – 66.

 

Something to think about!

Compared to this

YES FINALLY

Posted on December 5th, 2007 by sophie92.
Categories: Blogroll .

hey everyone
i know that you are all gonna be really sad after hearing this but i am really excited. i dont have to blog ever again. sorry to evryone that likes blogging and i dont mean to offend you but i really dont like it. its just not something that i do. YAY last day of school. and by the way if any of you guys read stephs page she wont be blogging next year. she is actually very depressed about this. blogging is her life. she cant get onto her account anymore as she forgot her password. i think that she just shed a tear. AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
cya guys
love soph xo )

Source: http://jomcleay.com/sophie92/

    

Are Blogs useful educational tools?

There has been a long history of new educational technologies being introduced into educational institutions with grand proclamations as to their impacts. Cuban (1996) cites some interesting examples; Thomas Edison proclaiming that books will be obsolete in the schools because of film, Benjamin Darrow suggesting that radio would bring the world to the classroom. He suggests that those advocating ICT in the 1980’s and 1990’s, have made similarly inflated claims. In fact in his book “Oversold and Underused” (Cuban, 2001) suggests that educational technologies, rather than changing education or promoting innovation,  are generally employed to sustain existing patterns of teaching and that the use of ICT is not wide spread. There is substantial support in the literature for his view; Miller and Olson (1999); McFarlane, Harrison, Somekh, Scrimshaw, Harrison and Lewin (2000); Mumtaz (2000); Somekh, Barnes, Triggs, Sutherland, Passey, Holt, Harrison, Fisher, Joyes and Scott (2001); Twining (2001). Loveless (2001) goes as far as to describe the difference between the claims made for ICT and its impact on education as a reality-rhetoric gap. There is similar support in the New Zealand literature. The Learning Centre Trust of New Zealand in a random sample of 396 New Zealand schools found that only, 8% of Maori Medium, 10% of Primary and 1% of Secondary schools felt that their teachers could use ICT “as an instructional tool and integrate it into the curriculum”( The Learning Centre Trust of New Zealand, 2001, p. 63). This research was repeated in 2003 and while there was some improvement in secondary schools, reporting the use of ICT as an instructional tool integrated into the curriculum had increased to 5 %, primary schools dropped 1 % to 9 % (The learning Centre Trust of New Zealand, 2003). 

Roblyer (2006, p 53) suggests that “teachers look at their current teaching problems and identify technologically based methods that offer goods solutions”. He presents a pragmatic approach. There are some dangers with a pragmatic approach, however. There is a tendency to balance possibilities with, is it worth the effort and can I achieve my objectives more easily with other means. Teachers are masters at this. Time is always at a premium, resources are always scarce and there are a set of cultural expectations of teachers that include, among many others: (a) maintaining good order, (b) achieving high pass rates in credentialed assessment, (c) covering the curriculum in a thorough and timely fashion, (d) being able to report on student progress and passing on the content considered important in their subject areas. As Loveless, et al (2001, p. 82) put it “any shift in routine costs teachers dearly”.

The question, therefore, becomes, how much cost (teacher time, resources, and disruption of expectations), for what benefit. Only the individual teachers can answer that question, from within their own context. The cost I suspect will only be paid on a sustainable basis when there is not a less costly alternative, or that the cultural expectations change.

The question of student engagement, however, will only be answered by giving it a go, within context. I can be reasonably sure however, that using a blog to issue homework instructions will not increase student engagement. There needs to be genuinely engaging tasks set.

There is also an imperative not often alluded to, that does deserve some comment. While not a great fan of Pensky’s (2001) Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants there is a need for educators to as comfortable in the new digital culture, as is possible. As societal expectations of what it means to be a teacher change we need to be ready, if we are to remain relevant. I would suggest that all educators should have a go at a blog, play with its possibilities experiment in the classroom. Keep what is useful discard what is not.  In doing so you will be making educated decisions and, therefore, better meeting the needs of your students. You are also demonstrating that you are life long learners, should we not lead by example.  

References

Cuban, L. (1996). Education Week on the web Oct 9 1996 Wednesday, 12 February 2003. Available at: http://www.edweek.org/ew/vol-16/06cuban.h16

Cuban, L. (2001). Oversold and underused. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Loveless, A., DeVoogd, G. & Bohlin, M. (2001). Something old, something new: Is pedagogy affected by ICT ? In A, Loveless & V, Ellis (Eds) ICT, pedagogy and the curriculum: Subject to change, (pp. 63-83). London: Routledge  Falmer.

McFarlane, A., Harrison, C., Somekh, B., Scrimshaw, P., Harrison, A. & Lewin, C. (2000). ImpaCT2 preliminary study 1: Establishing the relationship between networked technology and attainment. London: BECTa. Retrieved from the World Wide Web, 10th  June 2003: www.becta.org.uk

Miller, L. & Olson, J. (1999). Research agendas and computer technology visions: the need for closely watched classrooms. Education and Information Technologies, Vol 4, (1), pp. 81-98.

Muntaz, S. (2000).  Factors affecting teachers’ use of information and communications technology: A review of the literature. Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, Vol  9, (3), p. 319-341.

Pensky, M. (2001). On the Horizon. NCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001).

Somekh, B., Barnes, S., Triggs, P., Sutherland, R., Passey, D., Holt, H., Harrison, C., Fisher, T., Joyes, G. & Scott, R. (2001) NGfL pathfinders: preliminary report on the roll-out of the NGfL programme in ten pathfinder LEAs. Coventry: BECTa. Also available at: http://www.becta.org.uk

The Learning Centre Trust of New Zealand. (2003). Information and communication technology in New Zealand schools, 2003. Wellington: BRC Marketing & Social Research. Also available at http://www.learningcentretrust.org.nz/activities.htm

Twining, P. (2001). Planning to use ICT in schools? Education, Vol 29, (1), pp. 9-17.

Blogs in New Zealand Schools

As a Web2.0 beginner the steepness of the learning curve necessitates small steps and a certain limiting of attention. A useful place to start is with this application (blogs).

Teachers are obviously using blogs to create professional Journals. I hesitate to say conversations because there are very few comments posted. 

Derek’s Blog; Derek Wenmoth , Educational OrigamiAndrew Churches, Teaching in the Digital Age. – Louise Starkey  are indicative of this use.  

There are also many that are more personal and reflective,  Life is not a raceAllanah King  being an example.

 Scott Huette (2006) suggests an extensive list of uses of blogs in the classroom

Drawing on that list there was some evidence of teachers using blogs to; 

  •  post class-related information such as calendars, events, homework assignments and other pertinent class information.  
  • communicate with parents.
  • provide examples of classwork, vocabulary activities, or grammar games.    
  • gather and organize Internet resources for a specific course.
  • invite student comments or postings on issues in order to give them a writing voice.
  • publish examples of good student writing done in class.
  • show case student art, poetry, and creative stories.
  • post tasks to carry out project-based learning tasks with students.
  • build a class newsletter, using student-written articles and photos.

 There appeared to be little use being made of activities that involved student   

  • reactions to thought-provoking questions.
  • reactions to posted photos or videos. 
  •  journal entries. 
  •  results of surveys carried out as part of a class unit.
  •  ideas and opinions about topics discussed in class.

 There is even less evidence of students

  • using blogs to create communities of learning (collaboration).  

 It also needs to be noted that while there are between 10 million and 30 million blogs (an interesting statistic in its self) there would appear to be little daily use in New Zealand schools. There is of course always the possibility that school / student blogs are private groupings and considering the safety issues this is as it should be.

Leaving the issue of visibility aside for the moment. The conclusions arrived at after investigating whats out there, are;

  • that there would appear to be little integration of blogs as a learning tool in New Zealand schools
  • that would appear that secondary schools are using blogs less than primary schools
  • that the dominate paradigm within the institution appears to be reflected in that use.   

I would welcome correction on the posited conclusions especially if accompanied by some examples.

I would suggest that this is not just a local issue

Which theorectical perspective of learning does Web2.0 appear to support?

Roblyer et al (2003) suggest there are two paradigms that inform instruction, “Objectivist” and “Constructivist”. They posit that the objectivist paradigm is informed by: Behaviourist (B.F Skinner), Information processing Cognitive-Behavioural (Atkinson and Shiffrin) and Systems-Systematic, theories of learning. And that the constructivist paradigm is informed by: Social Activism (J Dewey), Scaffolding (Vygotsky), Stages of development (J Piaget), Discovery Learning (J Bruner) and Multiple Intelligences (H Gardner), theories of learning.

In the New Zealand context primary education generally has greater freedom to employ constructivist learning theories than the secondary and tertiary systems. The difficulties at secondary and tertiary levels are centred around the credentialing system especially at the secondary level with its atomised performance based standards   (an objectivist paradigm).

At first glance Web2.0 would appear to support a constructivist paradigm. With its participatory model and it’s harnessing of collective intelligence and, wisdom of crowds. The support for this argument should be found by investigating the instructional uses that Web2.0 applications are being put to and where they are being employed.

Reference

Roblyer, M., Edwards, J., & Havriluk, M. (2003). Intergrating educational technology into teaching. New Jersey: Prentice Hill.

Whats Web2.0

What defines Web2.0  

Wikipedia (2008), suggests the term Web2.0 became notable after the first O’Reilly Web2.0 Media Conference in 2004. Wikipedia is quoted here at some risk, considering the schism in educational institutions as to its validity as an academic source of information. Wikipedia, however, is a part of Web2.0 and it seems disingenuous not to include it in the discussion.

Tim O’Reilly (2005) provides a complex and extensive description of the features of Web2.0. He suggests that Web2.0 involves providing access to web based data management, facilities, rather than providing applications as such. That data is produced at what he calls the “edge of the web” by everyone who is interested, rather than by a few at what he calls the “centre of the web”. Suggesting that the fundamental rule is, the more the service is used the greater the amount of data involved. Use has no impact on the amount of data in Web1.0 applications, in comparison. He also suggests that Web2.0 embraces harnessing collective intelligence; data is collectively generated and scrutinised. Another point of difference cited is that Web2.0 applications, unlike Web1.0 applications, allow users to display data as they choose and to make hyperlinks as they see fit. The result being that Web2.0 “connections grow organically as an output of collective activity of all web users” (O’Reilly, 2005, p6).

It would appear that Web2.0 is built around a participatory model. Richardson (2006, p5) citing Rushkoff, highlights this participatory model of Web2.0 stating that “every person with access will have the ability to contribute ideas and experiences to the larger body of knowledge that is the Internet, and in doing so …they will be writing the human story in real time, together”.

It also appears that Web2.0 has the ability to harness, collective intelligence and the wisdom of crowds, depending on the application. With Collective Intelligence, being defined as emerging through deliberation, where people share, alter and evaluate other’s contributions to arrive at common ground. This not the same as the wisdom of crowds which James Suriowecki(1995) suggests is that the wisdom achieved when data from a number of sources is aggregated.

If this is a useful conceptualization of what Web2.0 is, then applications that are clearly identified with Web2.0 should fit easily within it. Looking at the Edublog that this is appearing on. It is defiantly supplying facilities for managing data and while an application (Web Browser) has been used to access it, Edublogs is not supplying that application they are supplying a data management service. That data is defiantly being produced at the edge there has been no editor, publishing house or scrutiny by others before publishing. It is self evident that the greater the number of users (bloggers) the greater the data available, will be. It is possible to change how the data is displayed with the content being displayed in an order and logic which is the authors. There is also a set of layout templates to choose from and with knowledge of HTLM / PHP it would possible to make some major changes to the look of the blog. The range of additional widgets and tools that can be added to the blog is also extensive. This blog, however, currently fails the conceptualisation being put forward with regard to collective activity. There are links out, but these are static rather than two way and there are no comments at this point in time. It has yet to become part of the blogosphere, threfore it has as yet, not been subjected to the wisdom of crowds. It has not had the opportunity for selection, comment and dissemination by the community of web users. This is not because its not possible but rather it is as yet not utilised. This is a Web2.0 beginner blog after all, and it has not been posted fro long.

References

What is web2.0?

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Web 2.0

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O’Riley, T. (2005). What I sWeb2.0 Design patterns and business models for the next generation. Retrieved March 18, 2008 from the World Wide Web:http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html

Ricardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, and podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Roblyer, M., Edwards, J., & Havriluk, M. (2003). Intergrating educational technology into teaching. New Jersey: Prentice Hill.

Surowiecki, J. (2005). Wisdom of crowds. Random House:NewYork