• What is Web 2.0?
    Blogs, Video Sharing, Podcasting, Wikis....
    Web 2.0 is a term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies. The term became notable after the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users utilize the Web.


    Educators can’t ignore emerging technologies. Why not? Because what students do at home often affects what happens at school. Since students are using instant messaging, cell phones, blogging and social networking sites such as MySpace, awareness of these technologies and how they fit into our classrooms is important. Teachers who embrace these technologies can help students learn to use them responsibly and can add an exciting new element to their lessons.

    The term blog is short for weblog. According to Stephen Downes, senior researcher with the E-Learning Research Group, the use of blogs soared after Sept. 11, 2001, moving from little more than online diaries to credible “personal publishing” forums by “incorporating the best features of hypertext: the capacity to link to new and useful resources.”

    Start blogging!
    Creating your own blog is simple. Choose from one of the sites listed below. Which blog tool you choose is up to you – they all have different types of eye appeal, are free and searchable. EduBlog, and 21 Classes are directed specifically at educators.

    Judy’s Web 2.0 Notes’ More About Blogging walks you through steps for setting up Blogger, Wordpress or EduBlog accounts and at Discovery0607’s How Toyou can learn how to set up Bloglines accounts. You can choose from several templates on these blog sites and your user name is generally incorporated into your blog’s web address.

    Better Blogging describes how students create discussions by adding comments on other students’ blogs. Daily Lesson Plans has an example of how to build good comments. The Cool Cat Teacher has a list of suggestions on effective commenting:

    1. Write a meaningful comment.
    2. If you have written about it, hyperlink to your post.
    3. If you have a blog, share something about yourself when you comment.
    4. Use a comment tracking service.
    5. Don't be afraid to comment.
    6. Teach commenting.
    7. Remember the power of words.

    According to Viki Davis, author of the Cool Cat Teacher blog, commenting validates another user’s comments, encourages meaningful debate, draws attention to your own blog, and allows students to become part of a community. You can find more tips on good blogging at DavisTen habits of bloggers that win!

    And finally – if you’re strictly a visual person--you can watch a video titled Blogger: How to Start a Blogon YouTube.

    (For more advanced information about adding RSS feeds and subscribing to blogs, see the May 2007 NJEA Review Toolbox column, “Now Hear This!”)

    Blogging safely

    BlogSaftey.com dispels concerns parents and teachers may have because of reality-hyped shows (e.g. "To Catch a Predator" on Dateline NBC) and talks about what we should be focusing on instead: cyberbullies. The author cites research from a 2006 study titled Bullies Move Beyond the Schoolyard that says 33.4 percent of U.S. teens have been the victims of online (cyber) bullying which translates to about 6.9 million reported incidents. Surveys conducted in that study showed:

    • Over 41.5 percent of respondents who were cyberbullied did not tell anyone of their victimization.
    • 16.7 percent of participants have bullied others online.
    • Of those surveyed, 59.7 percent believe that online bullying is as bad as (or worse than) bullying that occurs in real life.

    Find out how one guidance counselor mediates these online confrontations in The IM life of middle-schoolers, Part 2: A school's role.

    For sample policies, see the code that Discovery 0607 created to be sure that classroom blogs are scholarly and based upon protection (of personal information, identity, unique thoughts). This code also ensures that bloggers can operate without fear (of insult, reprisal, dishonesty) and be creative, non-restrictive, tolerant, and sensitive.

    The author defines public and private communication (what is available for anyone to see versus what is passworded or otherwise protected), with 20 different privacy and respect rules including, “I will never post any information more personal than my first name nor will I post pictures of myself,” and “I will not bully others in my blog posts or in my comments.” Consequences for infractions are listed and the process for posting controversial material is outlined.

    TeachersFirst: Blog Basics for the Classroom is a leveled tutorial that allows you to step through according to your own knowledge and expertise and describes how to create a “gated blog” including: spelling out consequences; checking with administration; communicating rules (see the link to the Blogger Agreement); becoming the gatekeeper (deciding who can read your site, who can post, and who can register); and evaluating your site.

    And finally, it is often children’s behavior on the Web that can lead to cyberbullying and inadvertent encouragement of sexual advances. Safe Blogging Tips for Teens encourages kids to:

    • Be as anonymous as possible.
    • Protect their info.
    • Think before using photos.
    • Avoid in-person meetings.
    • Check comments regularly.
    • Be honest about their age.

    Imagine being able to access a free online educational community that shares instructional videos devoted exclusively to teaching and learning. Educator Jason Smith did more than imagine it; he enlisted the help of his younger brother, and together they turned their ideas into a reality called TeacherTube. Launched in March 2007, the overarching goal of TeacherTube is to “fill a need for a more educationally focused, safe venue for teachers, schools, and home learners" and to “provide anytime, anywhere professional development, with teachers teaching teachers." In addition to providing professional development for teachers, TeacherTube provides a place to post “videos designed for students to view in order to learn a concept or skill."

    Podcasting 101

    Podcasting in Education
    A new way to inspire learning

    Podcasting offers an ideal tool for the creative expression of knowledge preferred by today's students, and provides an exciting way for students and educators to explore and discover educational content. Podcasts are audio or video files that are automatically delivered over a network, then played back on any Mac, PC, or iPod. When students create a podcast for class, they not only learn the content in a creative way, they learn 21st-century communications skills at the same time.

    Featured in the May, 2008 issue of the

    Wikis as tools for classroom communication, collaboration and connection. Are you ready?

    by Patricia Bruder, EIRC

    What’s a wiki?

    Is a wiki:

    1. a big ol’ monster
    2. a Caribbean drink
    3. a crazy, crazy dance
    4. none of the above

    (From What is a Wicki? A Quick Qwiz for Teachers)

    The answer is, of course, D--none of the above! What better place to find the definition for wiki than on Wikipedia: “A wiki is softwarethat allows users to collaboratively create, edit, link, and organize the content of a website, usually for reference material. Wikis are often used to create collaborativewebsitesand to power community websites.”

    Seven Things You Should Know about Wikis provides a brief overview about wikis in education, asking the questions:

    1. What is it?
    2. Who’s doing it?
    3. How does it work?
    4. Why is it significant?
    5. What are the downsides?
    6. Where is it going?
    7. What are the implications for teaching and learning?

    This article from Educause says “Wikis might be the easiest and most effective Web-based collaboration tool in any instructional portfolio. Their inherent simplicity provides students with direct (and immediate) access to a site’s content, which is crucial in group editing or other collaborative project activities.”

    Why use a wiki?

    Uses and Potentials of Wikis in the Classroom quotes learning expert Marc Prensky: “Today's students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach." New technologies like wikis are defined as a step on a print-oral continuum, allowing for fluidity and flexibility in communication, connecting readers and writers.

    Teachers can use wikis for just about everything. Wiki Ideas for the Classroomtakes you through scrolling lists of ideas for using wikis in math, social studies and language arts and describes how wikis help make connections, build creativity, engage students, develop interpersonal skills, improve writing and stimulate metacognitive skills.

    This site takes you through basic decision making, such as: how you can use a wiki, who will be able to see it, who will moderate the wiki, what kind of administrative policies you need to be aware of and which wiki tool you should use.

    Weblogged’s New Internet Literacieslooks beyond the obvious benefits of ease of collaboration by describing wikis as self-directing (students can pursue their interests), self-selecting (learning as creation), self-editing, self-organizing, self-reflecting, self published, and self-connecting.

    The jury was still out for Kathy Schrock, prolific “technology pathfinder/educator,” when she wrote on her 2005 blog, Kaffeeklatsch, “I have been giving this whole Wikipedia thing a lot of thought.” Though 2005 is fairly dated by technology standards, her valid links to NECC’s (National Educational Computing Conference 2005) The New Shape of Knowledge, NPR’s broadcast Wikipedia's Growth Comes with Concerns,

    Andy Carvin’s Turning Wikipedia into an Asset for Schools, the Village Voice’s column Mondo Wikipediaby Rachel Aviv, and Time Magazine’s It's a Wiki, Wiki Worldall provide food for thought about incorporating wikis in education and implications their use might have.

    How to use a Wiki

    Education Week’s Digital Directions article Wiki Wisdom: Lessons for Educators contains a list of five wiki tips:

    1. Use built-in alerts so you know when students have made changes to the wiki.
    2. Consider whether you should make your wiki public (it’s OK to limit it to just those you want to have access).
    3. Educate your kids (and yourself) about copyright.
    4. Instill a sense of professionalism in wiki posters--set guidelines.
    5. Don’t post personal information.

    It might also be a good idea to require students to take the online Wikipedia tutorial, which walks you through editing, formatting, linking, talk pages (discussion places where you can post comments), discussions about subject matter, copyright and a “sandbox” where students can experiment. Wikipedia even has its own Manual of Style (MoS).

    Ways to use Wikis in Educationdiscusses how students use wikis for peer reviews, as group authors, to track projects, for data collection and class reviews.

    Using wiki in educationfrom The Science of Spectroscopy, a NASA-sponsored blog project, lists easily created webpages, project development with peer review, group authoring, data collection, and presentations. Links to wiki tools include Jotspot , the new Google set of collaboration tools. Heavy Metal Umlautis an interesting video demonstration of the creation of a webpage. Or you can check out the You Tube videos listed in the sidebar. If You Tube is blocked by your filters you might be able to access the video from several of the educational sites listed in this column.

    For Teachers New to Wikiscovers “evolving information” for incorporating wikis in the classroom. This wiki covers topics on using wikis to facilitate teaching, writing development, and learning, finding appropriate wiki writing spaces, introducing wikis to students and types of obstacles you might encounter.

    Ideas for wikis

    An interesting wiki is the Flat Classroom Project, based on the popular Thomas Friedman book, The World is Flat. Students collaborate with students in other parts of the world on scenarios based on the book. Another good site is Science Inquirer, which includes a Science Misconception podcast, Free Stuff for Science Teachers list, Super Slow Motion Video clipsand digital microscope images. The AP calculusdialogue wiki is subtitled “an interactive learning ecology for students and parents in…AP Calculus class.” The Sam Jackson College Experienceis a Yale University freshman’s account of his “painfully extensive research on various college admissions related topics.” Also see School Computing Homepagefor a collaborative guide to information technology in K-12schools.

    Wiki in a K-12 Classroomis a wiki from the University of Illinois suggesting uses for science fair projects, collaborative textbooks, student portfolios, wiki organization, collaborative understanding, collaboration between teachers and literature circles.

    For an example of literary collaboration in a very simple, easy-to-use format, take a look at the Terry the Tennis Ball, a Choose Your Own Adventure wiki, begun in Australia in July 2006 and updated through early September 2007.

    How We Use Wikis in the Classroom is a list of links to some very creative teacher- and student-created wikis used to create a school newspaper, make documentaries, create a history broadcast, create “geotopias” (to persuade their classmates and friends to live and/or visit their special place on earth, “their utopia” ), and for problem-based learning. It is also great for ESL students or an international project on plants.

    Concerns about wikis

    Lack of Order: So if wikis are so great, why wouldn’t teachers want to use them? Brian Lamb’s definitive article, Wide Open Spaces: Wikis Ready or Notexplains how social networking sites, like wikis, are self-policed. The very fact that they are open and available makes their communities more likely to have a vested interest in their preservation. You can also set up your wiki to send you an e-mail or RSS alert whenever your page is changed. Wide Open Spaces also talks about navigating through the hierarchical structure of wikis.

    Format: Another concern is “Why Are Wikis So Ugly?” Perhaps a comment on the Why Wiki Workssite explains why that shouldn’t matter:

    “Wiki is not WYSIWYG[what you see is what you get]. It's an intelligence test of sorts to be able to edit a wiki page. It's not rocket science, but it doesn't appeal to the [video addict]. If it doesn't appeal, they don't participate, which leaves those of us who read and write to get on with rational discourse.”

    Why Wiki Works also explains in more technical detail why there is less worry than you might imagine over pranksters deleting your wiki pages: “Deleting wiki pages is about as much fun as removing water from the ocean with a coffee cup.”

    Quality: Wikipedia:WikiProject Schoolsis a member-created site of suggestions and templates for quality classroom wikis. They recommend including: an infobox (which might include the school logo), an introduction (about the school, town or municipality), history or milestones of the school, curriculum, extracurriculars, etc. Some things they suggest wikis not include are: lists of current staff, school uniforms, trivial information (information that wouldn’t interest non-school visitors, e.g., lunch schedules), school happenings that don’t have lasting impact, telephone numbers, and student e-mail addresses (it’s OK to list a general information or contact e-mails).

    Security: There may also be concerns about security. Think Outside the Blogfrom TechLearning talks about ways to set up your wiki, whether you use a free, fee-based, or server-side application. You might want to have the school techie or network administrator take a look at that.

    Where to get a wiki

    As a K12 teacher, you can sign up for your own free Wiki on Wikispaceswith no limit on space and no advertising. Wikispaces is home to the Westwood Wiki managed by one of our favorite online educators, Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher).

    Wetpaint is a popular wiki site that you can easily edit and add videos, pictures and surveys.

    PB Wikihas made some changes recently and updated their service. Cool widgets like YackPacks let you install a walkie - talkie right on your wiki. You can also embed YouTube videos, insert a calendar or a Bubbleshare slideshow.

    Allthewikis lists criteria for selecting free wikis, provides a list of free wikis, and a matrix comparing free wikis.

    WikiMatrix lets you compare the features from many different wikis including free and fee based.

    Wikis--tools you can use

    YouTube videos

    PB Wiki--(asks teachers “What is a Wiki?”)

    Wikis in Plain English--(from the wonderful CommonCraft series of video tutorials) or if you can’t access You Tube, try Wikis in Online Education

    Mac vs. PC Parody -- Wiki, Mac vs. PC Parody -- Wiki 2--(see also #3-7) parodies of the popular Mac vs. PC commercials. These fun commentaries describe the easy-to-use and “add on” features of Wet Paint wiki pages

    Wikispace tutorial--a step-by-step walkthrough of how to set up your own wikispaces

    Slideshows about wikis

    Wikis in the classroom—by Vickie Davis

    Wikis That Work—addresses wikis and pedagogy and more

    Teaching in a Participatory Culture: How Wikis can support learning—covers using wikis for student and teacher collaboration

    WWW: Wiki Web Work --created by a teacher-librarian for grades 4-8

    Examples of classroom wikis

    Educational wikis—a comprehensive list of existing educational wikis

    Classroom blogs and wikis--classroom communication and collaboration

    Coops World – Who’s Doing What with Wikis?--examples and how-tos.

    My kids’ projects NJ Tech Teacher Musings--Kidpix projects on a wiki


    Wiki Trivia– quiz your students (or your colleagues)

    Wiki Widgets--lets you add calendars, RSS feeds, images, instant messaging, maps, music, polls, and video to your wiki pages

    Wikis and Education– Extensive annotated resource for rubrics/assessment, how tos, videos, research and articles

Last Modified on January 29, 2009