Teaching wikis to future educators: My virtual presentation at the College of William and Mary

Tomorrow I am spending time with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach‘s class EDUC 330 Tech Enhanced Learning at the College of William and Mary.

I am incredibly impressed with Sheryl's course syllabus and wish that the incredible speakers she has scheduled could present to many colleges at once. She has an incredible line up and I'm going to be listening to her other speakers. I spent today listening to Anne Davis talk about blogging. Wow! I highly suggest that those of you interested in using blogging in the classroom listen to how Anne has been doing it for years with fifth graders. (The recording is in Elluminate.) Anne teaches teachers at Georgia State University and also finds time to spend 2 hours each week in an elementary classroom. She is incredible!

The other speakers? Listen to this:

My Presentation about Wikis Tomorrow
To prepare for my presentation., I uploaded my wikis across the curriculum presentation from the K12online conference to Google Video so that I can embed it in wikis and my blog. If you are interested in wikis, this is still my definitive video on using wikis and what I'm doing. It is still valid post-flat classroom project and can give you how I'm using them. (There are many other teachers who are using wikis in other fascinating ways as well.) That is the video at the beginning of this blog post!

I've also shared my slides for tomorrow with her class. We are presenting over Elluminate and I hope that it will be recorded. If so, I'll share it with you. These slides are on slideshare.

I dug up some fascinating resources at the beginning of the presentation. that you might want to read.

These students of Sheryl's are going to be ready to connect and relate to students in incredible, meaningful ways, that is if administrators and IT folks will get out of their way.

Meanwhile, innovators keep getting doors slammed in their faces!

As I've been writing, I got some disheartening news from one of my favorite pairs of wiki educators. I'm not going to name this person right now, however, this incredible math wiki project for middle schoolers has come to a screeching halt because all wikis are now blocked.

When asked if they could just unblock this one wiki, the answer was “it is either all or nothing.”

Firstly, I manage a firewall and there is something in there called “allowed URL's” — I've seen three or four major firewall interfaces and have never seen one without it. This lets a person allow a specific URL even if the primary URL is blocked. (For example, http://westwood.wikispaces.com could be allowed when all other wikispaces were blocked.) I think this teacher is getting the runaround!

Secondly, I see more and more educators continuing to get excited about new technologies only to have the virtual rug pulled out from under them on global collaborative projects when some person in IT, without direct curricular authority, deciding to “pull the plug.”

This is kind of like letting the barnkeeper decide when the horse needs to race based upon when they want to clean out the stable. The horse races when there's a race. The teacher needs to teach when there is a need.

Something is upside down about letting curriculum be driven in this way! There must be communication! What a travesty!

But this is not a single instance. It is happening over and over. Time and again!

Wikis continue to work
Wikis continue to be a great tool in my classroom! They pull together the multiple digital artifacts created by my students in an incredibly easy to use manner!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Claudia Ceraso February 26, 2007 - 1:56 am

I have spent some time working on my first wiki today. I wanted to have a look at your flatclassroom project again and get inspired and find answers to my new questions. Here I am back to your blog to find this great presentation!

No more questions. Slide 50 answered me. Got it! Thanks.

I will be using my Corpus wiki with an English as a foreign language class at a language school (students aged 18+). The course starts soon and I will be blogging about this wikifying process in my ELT Notes blog, in case someone wants to have a look.

This is the first for me. Any comments will be welcome with a broad smile.

Wishing you all best with your presentation tomorrow,

Buenos Aires, Argentina

audrey February 26, 2007 - 4:19 am

I despair of ever being able to do anything with wikis or blogs. Now I am forced to create webpages where students can publish their work as a means for display. Alas…. social networking is not coming to a school near me.

D.Harter February 26, 2007 - 5:08 am

That’s my alma mater! Great to know that they are moving ahead with tech in schools instead of the other way around. I hope that they are also instilling in their future educators an openness to all technologies and more importantly an understanding that it is still about good teaching. The technology is just a tool for fostering communication, thinking, and understanding. Go Tribe!

Patrick Higgins February 26, 2007 - 5:26 am


Thanks for pointing me to these materials, especially apbc. We have been using wikis with our students for about a month, and have noticed several pedagogical changes in our classrooms–all for the better.

We are laughing at the urgency the students are showing when we “unleash” them onto the wiki. Before we can nail down the exact assignments, we have students visiting every page and adding content just because they can. It’s great stuff. The teachers I work with don’t know what to do when their students begin leading discussions on the novels they are reading. When we conference, there is a sense of giddiness that they show when they talk about student engagement.

Teaching Sagittarian February 26, 2007 - 8:47 am

Thanks (again) Vicki – it’s fantastic when teachers in other countries (like me) can see the awesome work that you are doing/sharing and be able to watch/hear/learn just like those who are taking part in the virtual presentation. Your video was superb – I can’t believe it was just your second go! I would love to share it with my fellow teachers at our next Professional Development staff meeting if that’s ok!

Simon February 27, 2007 - 7:22 am

I have just watched your video and was very impressed.
The whole idea of gearing students up for their future excites me. I have only my laptop and one other computer in the classroom, My children are also 7. I am beginning to get my head around how best to make use of wikis in this environment. I’d love to here your thoughts.

Dan February 27, 2007 - 3:50 pm

In regards to “Innovators keep getting doors slammed in their faces” I feel your pain. I am a network admin at a K12 district. I was recently directed to block Youtube.com because there was some objectionable content. After doing so I immediately started getting requests from teachers to unblock it. They were all completely legitimate requests. I thought it was great that they were using the site for educational purposes and a shame that we were preventing them from doing so. If they are using Youtube today, maybe they will be blogging and using wiki’s tomorrow. We need to let the teachers use technology and be very careful not to send a bad message. Otherwise they will just stop trying to innovate where technology is concerned. I wanted to get permission to unblock it so I started to keep a record of the requests. I eventually took the information downstairs and explained the situation. I was able to unblock youtube after they saw the light, but what will be next?

VWB March 1, 2007 - 7:43 pm

We are trying to get Wikis and blogs going in our district as means for teacher/student learning and communication. When I found your very nice concise slideshow that had the great explanation and the places to go for wiki help, I was so thrilled to have it all nicely condensed and organized and got ready to show it to a group of Librarians when…wham!! it is blocked. Of course, I was naive to think that JUST because your great blog gets thru, that this wonderful resource would as well.

Would there be a way to see it outside of that format? Would you allow us to use it outside of that format?

Douglas Gauld September 8, 2009 - 11:06 pm

To “Meanwhile, innovators keep getting doors slammed in their faces!” I certainly can relate. I work for Baltimore City Public Schools, which treat blogs, YouTube, and even Google Image search as if they were purely for pornographers and terrorists. If I want to find a good image for a PowerPoint on the fly, Wikipedia is my best bet–until they decide to block that, too. I did find one good solution, though. Keepvid.com will allow you to save YouTube videos to your computer without any new software, although you might want to download the Applian FLV player from their site, since many other video players don’t seem to have the necessary codecs. With this, I can show the cool student produced videos for Ovid’s mythology that I found. Unfortunately, my students cannot submit their own videos on the school’s computers.

Our school system is anti Web 2.0.

Douglas Gauld

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