Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wikis Rock

On Friday I spent the day AWAY from my computer and hanging out with my sister who is also a teacher. It is no surprise that much of our conversation centered around teaching; our students, administrators, colleagues and new ideas for this year. She is in a difficult place this year, one that I remember very well. Her colleagues are uninspired, her administrators not helpful and her resources are scarce to absent. It's almost criminal. She is a teacher with passion, conviction and an intense desire to improve so she can increase the students' learning.  Unfortunately many of her roads are blocked.  I know this is the reality of many teachers today.

So I told her about the free web2.0 tools that are the backbone of my teaching. The first stop is the wiki. (I prefer PBWorks but any wiki engine is good.) The basic wiki from PBWorks is rich with possibilities for hosting your classroom resources and encouraging student collaboration. Just sign up for an account and listen to their online tutorials. This coming September 1st, you can participate in a free webinar and learn the basics. I recommend it.

After two years of convincing the powers that be in my neck of the woods, my school is finally adopting wikis. We are implementing the 'Campus Edition' from PBWorks which means that everyone (up to 1,000 users) can have a premium wiki- teachers and students!   (One premium wiki costs $100 and allows complete control of pages and folders. Each page/folder has security permissions and the storage capacity is up to 40GB.)  The Campus Edition allows for unlimited wikis for up to 1,000 users so really, that means that the storage capacity is unlimited.  I'm thrilled about this move and can't wait to see what the staff and students will do with this tremendous tool.

Can you imagine what it would be like to graduate from sec 5 with a digital portfolio that showcases your learning curve from sec 1? That's a powerful learning tool and a tremendous record of many years of work. In my own case, I'm beginning the third year with most of my wikis and have come to see them as living books. Each year seems to have its own colour.

So, chin up, step up and move up into the world of free web 2.0 tools and wiki your way to another great year!  And keep your eyes on the wikis from PBWorks because they are always improving their product.  Here's the latest - uploading files is even easier.

Drag and Drop File Uploads from PBworks on Vime

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