Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Now THIS is how a Wiki should be used!

You may recall that about two months ago, in an entry about JESNA's Lippman Kanfer Institute Wiki, I lamented that "rather than being an interactive or collaborative experience, [this] Wiki is still currently functioning much like any other website." Well, I want to share with you a wiki that I think makes brilliant use of the potential of the technology: flatplanet, the Wikispaces "space of the month" for April 2007.

Flat Planet is:

"...an online collaborative project between students in two religious education classes in Catholic High Schools in Canada and the United Kingdom. The students were given the task of examining environmental issues affecting both Canada and the U.K. and to think about the ethical/moral responsibility of Roman Catholics with regard to the environment..."

So what makes the result so fantastic? Here's just a few of the creative ways the site takes advantage of the potential of the technology to twin classrooms in different parts of the world for collaborative learning:

  • clocks on the home page with the current times in Oakville, Canada and London, England)
  • students can post photos of themselves so their other group members can see who they are
  • project pages, on which the students post text, audio, photos, and videos
  • discussion pages, on which students discuss what they are posting and respond to one another's concerns (here is a sample, from the project on animal testing)
  • a resource page (actually, a blog) on which students can post articles and weblinks they think will be helpful to all the groups

Along with the technology, the site also demonstrates a number of pedagogical techniques that are simply good practice, including a clear rubric for grading the projects.

How far ahead of the crowd is this wiki? Well, for a quick comparison, pay a visit to the (relatively) new blog, "Web 2.0 in the classroom" and try clicking on any of the links (which have impressive names like "21st Century Education"). Despite their great intentions, not a single one has been updated since April (and most consist of a single entry). Presumably, these were created as part of some sort of technology-in-the-classroom training (on March 12th). But I'm just guessing.

So what are we waiting for? For inspiration, here is what Simon O'Carroll (in Canada) and Neil D'Aguiar (in London) - the teachers who set up Flat Planet - had to say about their experience:

"The thing that we like about Wikispaces is the ease of use. It was fairly simple to figure out how to use the Wikispaces editing tools. Within a few minutes we had set up our Flat Planet Wikispaces site and were laying the groundwork for our students to begin their collaboration. I especially like the ability to easily embed things such as video, audio, and other types of media into the wiki."

Want to learn more about Web 2.0 and other new technologies, and their educational applications? Browse through the articles and other resources at the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, join the community at Classroom 2.0, spend some time at Suzie Vesper's Educational Software and Web 2.0 Wiki, and of course don't miss Caren Levine's jlearn 2.0. Enjoy!

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