Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ideas for Implementing Web 2.0

Well, this week I'm going to feature three different Web 2.0 tools that can be very useful in a classroom situation. My brain is a little fried from going through numerous tools before settling on these three. I found a pdf on that actually listed 3000 Web 2.0 tools from Amazing resource! So narrowing the list to three was a challenge.

But when I looked at the first category, Communication Platforms, I really liked this simple little tool that has so much potential for classrooms with limited resources called Edmodo.

The first thing I notice is how easy this tool is to use and navigate. The interface is very clean and appealing. But what is it? Edmodo calls itself a communications platform designed for educators. It's a web tool that enables teachers to communicate with students about assignments, expectations, discussion threads, and more. But what I really liked about it was the potential to use it with elementary students. I could easily see Edmodo being used with younger students with little or no explanation. It's so simple to use.

The other feature is that student privacy is totally protected and restricted. The teacher moderates all messages and discussions, so nothing gets posted that shouldn't be posted.

If I was in a traditional classroom setting, I would use Edmodo in setting up projects for my students and have this a central repository for assignments and other files. I could use this medium to communicate with the students about ideas to help them in their assignments, and also communicate deadlines. Great little tool. Check it out at

The next tool from the Collaboration Platform that amazed me was Wikispace. Here's a video that shows you how to set up a Wiki as a teacher for your classroom.

That video is a quick overview of setting up a wiki. I remember hearing people talk about wiki's for a few years now, but really didn't pay attention. I must admit also, that the first time I looked at a wikispace, I thought it looked amateurish. In contrast, Ning and it's graphical layout had grabbed my eye with all of it's shiny presentation. But while working on our Water Quality Project on Wikispace, I was wowed! What a robust and versatile tool for bringing everything together in one place to collaborate with people around the globe. Fantastic!

Wikispace is a collection of web pages where teachers can create projects for students to share their project ideas, assignments, or findings (if they are doing research). No personal information is shared on the site, but a teacher may want to send a letter home with students just to let them know what they are doing, and invite the parents to visit the site periodically and see the work that is being done. It's a great way to engage the parents in what the their child is learning.

What really heightened my interest in Wikispace is the ability to embed so many additional tools that allow the teacher to localize the places they have to go to research topics, or access tools to use to complete their projects. I'm so impressed with the versatility of this tool. I'm now working with two other colleagues on our Wiki, and loving it. Here's the project site: Water Quality Project. I think you may get the idea after checking out our wiki.

The final tool from the Publishing Platforms that I recommend is EduBlog. There are a lot of great publishing tools like TeacherTube, Moonk, Animoto, and Voicethread, but since blogging is a such a universal tool that I would love every classroom using, I was intrigued by the a blogging tool for educational purposes.

This is a cool little video called, Why Let our Students Blog. Check it out.

Blogging to learn! A novel idea. I've used Blogger here for a couple of years; my daughter prefers Wordpress, but Edublog focuses on providing a publishing tool to teachers to use in a school setting. The interface is very easy to use. In fact, I like Edublogs ability to add video, images, and files easily. The themes available are great; far more than available with Blogger. When I looked at it from a students perspective, I found myself being able to maneuver the site with little difficulty. The help button provided numerous swf videos showing how to use the site and covering all the basic functions. This was very helpful.

Regarding parental consent, the teacher can invite all the students to join their group and thus limit access from the outside. But I still would like to have parents give consent and be made aware of what the students are doing on the site. Blogging is a great way for students to publish their work and have other students read what they said and comment on it. It gives students the ability to embed other media resources into their work.

The drawback to Edublog is the cost to open up additional features that I would think need to be available to everyone. However, there are enough features with Edublog to make it worth it.

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