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Lessons Learned: Creating Online Learning Communities

This is the first session I’m actually able to blog live, because I’m hooked up to the presenter’s access point.

Even though the title of the session doesn’t say so, the panel is basically going to be about blogging and the trials and tribulations they have faced as they blogged in the classroom.

“Let’s play Stump the Geeks.” That’s funny.

Anne Davis
Anne is connected via Skype and it sounds really good. She’s been using blogs in 5th grade for the past 3 years…allowing students to see writing as a new avenue for communication.

NewsQuest was her first blog experience…she used this as a peer review tool…she really layed the foundation with some class discussion and activities before actually giving kids their own blog. After students began blogging parents were blown away at what the students were up to.

These 5th graders were then mentored by Anne’s 5th grade students and it really pulled them along. Two students got together on their own…something that this online communinity thing really enables students to do.

The Write Weblog

Lessons Learned

  • Students feel like they have some control and some choice about what’s going on in the classroom. Not complete choice, but some options.
  • Start small! Let the adminstration know what you’re doing to gain their support.
  • Teacher and student are on the same footing and are learning together.
  • Comments being emailed to the teacher is a good thing.
  • Build in time for reflection…students need help on how to do this.
  • The process is more important than the product…students still need help on proofreading and rewriting.

Question from the audience: Students now understand that they are web authors, not web consumers and have become ambassadors to their classmates and their school.

Will Richardson

He now has an adminstrative view of blogs…there are 600 blogs at his school. That is a lot. Teachers use them for a variety of classes, not just writing although it’s based on writing. The power comes in the ability for students to contribute to the larger base of knowledge.

Never learned more than he has as he’s been using blogs, both reading and writing them. Blogs seem to be getting a bad name as being student diary entries and silly postings.

Question from the audience: What is the approval process? Classroom blogs can only be commented on by classroom members. They can be read by anyone, but the interaction is limited.

Question from the audience: How to get teachers involved?

Well, now we’ve moved on the the other three guys…they are giving short intros.

Tom Hoffman
We’re really just taking baby steps in the world of educational blogging…

Time Lauer
Now a principal in Oregon…

Wants to see the leaders in curriculum become bloggers so that the rest of us can gain from the expert knowledge. He uses his blog for announcements and hashing out little things about school schedules etc. He has be requiring teachers to write a paragraph of what is going on week to week in a classroom. That info is posted to a blog, but also is printed and sent home to all teachers.

insticki is a wiki application…they are using it as a local wiki just on their network. Teachers are using RSS to monitor whether their kids are posting like they’re supposed to.

On to more questions.

Questions: Legal issues? Parent communication for explanations as well as the AUP. Parents were involved in a book review blog to kind of give them a blogging experience.

Questions: When to use wikis, when to use blogs? How to get teachers involved? It seems to have to be a slow process. First use it as a class portal, then open it up to comments from students, then group blogs for students, and move up the ladder from there.

Questions: What about the math teacher? Math teachers have used them as follow-ups from workshops…basically as a teacher tool. Conversations about math principals and analysing problems…not necessarily going through the steps inself, but talking about how the problem how could be solved. http://pc40s.blogspot.com

Questions: How convenient is it to blog? What’s the access opportunity?

Questions: Compare/contrast blog and discussion boards? Discussion boards can be clunky. Blogs can be searched, discussion boards often can’t. Blog centralize information and creates a portfolio of your work and thoughts.

Questions: Why are bloggers mostly men? Maybe it’s not true.

Well the session is almost over…some good comments made.

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