Using a wiki to collaboratively create course curriculum

I like this case study. It’s not from post-sec, but K-12, and the interview with the educators was done by Wikispaces so they have an interest in promoting wiki technology in a positive light. However, that said, it is still a great example of how educators living at a distance used a wiki to collaborate and develop an OER based on the Grade 6 social studies curriculum in Ontario. It also illustrates the benefits of being open, as the teachers involved sent out a tweet about their final result, which was picked up by the Wikispaces staff, who then interviewed the teachers and hilighted their wiki on their site – which was read by me, and is now being sent out to my network. Their work gets pushed around various networks and amplified, based on a single tweet that they sent.

Amplify’d from
However, as we began to work on the project, we needed a way to share ideas, and work on pulling the assignment together without meeting in person as we all lived a distance away from each other.
We wanted to reach more educators than only those in our faculty and within the first week of our unit being posted, we had other universities’ and your own recognition!
Rachel: As part of our IT course, we were all required to open Twitter accounts and we were encouraged to use it as a way to connect and collaborate with other educators. We were all very excited about our completed wiki so we decided to “tweet” about it. The fact that you found us through Twitter demonstrates first-hand the power of Web 2.0 tools and how effective they are for connecting and sharing with others around the globe.
Marsha: We learned so much for this experience beyond just how to create a unit of study. By jumping right in and being willing to try new things, we really discovered the value of technology in education and one’s own professional development. Now that we have each had experience with creating Wikispaces, we have been able to implement them in a practical way in the classroom and have experimented with its many uses.
Not having integrated vast amounts of technology before, we have realized its potential as educators through the power of collaboration and its use for professional development and its power for our students and their continued learning.
It becomes really difficult when the school isn’t equipped with technology and when— if you’re in a community that is accepting of the idea of integrating technology, I think that that just allows so much growth for your students.
And I think, too, with traditional education, when you think of online games and Web tools and, you know, doing things like this with technology, that it’s not “educational,” and that it’s more just fun, and you’re playing online. But we learned that there are tons of games and tools and resources online, and even just different technological tools that you can use in you classroom that are educational, depending on how you use them and what you want the kids to get out of it.
So if you’re learning from it and enjoying it, then imagine what the students will get from it.
you don’t know if it’s going to work until you’ve tried.
And don’t expect it to be the same experience that someone else had, because you go in, and it’s all trial and error. Does this work, and does that work, and we found that the best way to learn was to play with things ourselves instead of having the instructor sit beside us and set everything up for us, it was so much more, “See what works for you.”




My morning with Google Sites/Apps

Well, it took a lot of effort this morning, but I’m finally taking a look at Google Sites, which is rising from the ashes of the Jotspot wiki acquisition by Google last year.

I almost bailed on the process before I even started. I couldn’t use my existing Google account to log in. Seems that in order to try out Google Sites I needed to enter an email address of a work or school domain. Huh?

Upon further examination, it looked like I was actually signing up for Google Apps and not just Google Sites. Double huh?

I reread the Google Sites page and realized that Google has bundled Sites with Google Apps. If you want Sites, you need to have an Apps account. I couldn’t find any way to tie Google Sites to my existing single Google account.

So, if my first impression is correct, it doesn’t look like creating a wiki is going to be easy for your average user. I suspect individual users aren’t even on the radar for Google with respect to Sites. By bundling it with Google Apps, Google has sent a clear signal that they are targeting organizational IT departments moreso than individual users.

That’s not a bad thing. But don’t expect Google Sites to compete with PBWiki, Wetpaint or Wikispaces in the “hey I can get a wiki up and running in 5 minutes” department. It appears that’s not the purpose. It looks like Google Sites has become one little piece of a bigger puzzle for Google as they take aim at domain wide collaborative applications like SharePoint.

I did plunge in and sign up for a Google Apps account. I control a domain name so I used an email address from that domain to sign up and have now spent the better part of the morning getting distracted by Google Apps (and getting WAAAAAAY more functionality and services than I wanted). But for many of the people I am trying to convince to use wiki’s as a learning and teaching tool, this won’t be the first one out of my mouth.