Wikis and blogs this week: March 13 – Light the Match!

Wikis, Blogs, and Web 2.0 This week

We have had an exciting week in Computer Science. The chapter is on HTML and we are about to learn to hand code in notepad.

I felt it essential that I update them since the newest HTML standard is actually XHTML 1.1 and their book is slightly dated. We had very basic high level discussions of the evolution of the Net from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 including the use of databases to power information exchange on the web. (Ajax, DHML, XML, database structures)

We've related this to the mashup discussion that we had last week. Now, they are dreaming up mashups of their own that some of them will be presenting to the class on Monday. (These are linked to our mashup wiki).

Here are some ideas as presented to me orally along with a link to their wikis that they have just started:

  • Hunters Paradise
    Hunters use GPS to note and then to plot their kills in an online website. This then mashups onto Google Earth. It will mash up with weather information and fish and game reports to plan the ideal time to “hit” each location in the future. They are now looking for a programmer! (They are tenth graders!)
  • Fishing with Josh and Snow
    These students are going to actually Mashup off of Hunter's paradise (above) and add information on the best lures for the time of day and game reports for fishing.
  • Moviebook Mania
    This is for people who like to read books and watch the movies but don't know which one is the best. It will aggregate information from Amazon and movie review websites along with ratings. It will correlate characters and actors.

One of my ninth graders also blogged about an idea for a sports mashup based on the Podbop model. This was a voluntary blog.

Blogging this week

Several of my students posted today on how they think blogging will affect their future. Two of them jumped out at me and I thought their take on things is very interesting. These are ninth graders.

KS writes

Blogs are becoming more and more popular, especially at our school. Blogs can be used to post feelings, thoughts, homework, anything you want to have on the internet.

Wikis are used in the classroom to explain about new things such as lessons the teacher is teaching us. If a student misses a day or does not understand something from the lesson, he or she can go to the wikis and look at the directions or look for help that the other students have posted.

It allows teachers, like Mrs. Vicki to post exciting new activities all her classes are participating in and allows other people from all around the world to post comments about what they think.
Blogs can keep people in touch and can be used as an online journal. Sometimes they are used to post information about things such as homework.

Blogs, wikis, and other forms of these are becoming the vogue in major businesses to help the employees there. Blogs will soon be able to help people understand things as they become more and more popular all over the world.

TF writes that blogging is why he will be fired in this very interesting post.

Blogging will proabally be the reason I am fired from my job. People such as Dan Rather and Trent Lott lost their jobs because they said things that were not deemeed politically correct. Trent Lott was fired for being polite to an old man at his retirement party. Straum Therman was a racist and Lott told him that things woul have been better if he was President. Consequently bloogers automatically thought Lott to be a racist as well. It was such a horrible crine to have a suposed racist as the majority house leader, so he was removed from his position.I don't care much for political correctness, it's the reason Americ is in its present shape. If I offend someone by being polite to an old man at his retirment party, that's tough luck. Just because a few people voice their opinion about someone in a negative way, that is no grounds for impeachment from office.

Whereas TF may only have perhaps oversimplified understanding of these occurences, his post comes from some research his ninth grade friend did and posted on his political teen blog. We have only barely touched on this in class.

Several other interesting posts this week include:

One note about this “new stuff” to unbelievers!

Some say, this type of information belongs in a college level class. Why are you doing this with young kids?
Yes, in college, students will learn much more detailed information and we're only hitting it at the high levels. However, to ignore technology is like trying to ignore the fact that there is a combination of gases in the air we breathe…technology is ubiquitous and kids will come in contact with it.

Students can be victims of change or profit from change. I want my students to profit!

Additionally, students are interested in this! We haven't sacrificed one jot of our curriculum. All of the work we have done has been in addition to what we are already doing in the classroom. The technologies are meaningful to them and exciting. They want to know more. They see it in the future.

Let the “I don't have time” pundits rethink that.

Why are you so passionate about Web 2.0 and teaching it to kids?

When I was in college at Georgia Tech in 1990, I had to program on an Apple MacIntosh in a program called Hypercard. (A predecessor to hypertext.) In this class (Man Machine Systems), we had to create a user friendly interface that would allow people to accomplish a task.

We created something we called “Indulgences Unlimited.” We allowed people to make car reservations, airline reservations, hotel reservations, book concert tickets, and movies all using our point and click interface. (in 1990)

However, we laughed and thought our professor was “out there.” What technology would ever enable that to happen? Our mainframe at college couldn't even stay up during registration, what technology would serve up such a database to the world! We were glad to go to the mall to go to a “movie” buy tickets and wander around until time for the movie to start. (That is why movies used to be in malls.) We thought we liked it that way.

We were blind! We limited our view of the future by our experiences from the past.

When I watched the Internet revolution I joined in as a user and in 1997 as a webmaster. But I didn't get it.

When I first used Expedia I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. I created Expedia (a/k/a Indulgences Unlimited) in 1990 as a college Senior.. A very blind, naive, college senior who didn't “get it” although my professors were shouting about the coming revolution.

Well, now I'm the person shouting. People are saying the same things that they were saying in 1992-1995.

“How dumb? Who would want to blog? What is a wiki? That sounds like a dirty word! Why are you wasting your time! You're a bad person if you blog! Myspace is evil”

Same song. Second verse.

I remember a college professor who told me when analyzing new technology that,

“If everybody thinks its a good idea, you're already too late.”

I will not miss out this time.

I also cannot say that I missed completely out on technological change as I rode the cellular telephone bubble up and was a General Manager of a 13 county area by age 24 pulling in a sizeable paycheck and managing millions of dollars in assets and revenue each month. However, it could have been more.

A student said:

“So, Mrs. Vicki you really missed out.”

I told him:

“Yes, and no. Yes, because I could have made much more money. No, because I love the life I live and wouldn't rather be doing anything except teaching this wonderful class right now! I love teaching and sharing the story.

However, this time, I see ‘it' coming and I will be part of this. I will not miss out! I am going to benefit and if it kills me, someone in this classroom is going to hear what I”m saying and take advantage of it!”

In Conclusion

I took a very small match and lit a very small bit of wood.
My students have fueled this experience (since November) and taken our classroom into places I could have never dreamed of. We have an enriching, exciting, learning environment that blows me away. I love coming to work every morning. I love the invigorating discussions and how they push me mentally to be more. I love writing about it and sharing ideas with teachers around the world. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Bottom line. Students learn more, better, faster using wikis, blogs, and podcasts. Using Google and Wikipedia shortens the learning curve. Isn't that what teaching is about?

In conclusion, what are you waiting for? Light the match.

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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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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere