I am about to set up an online reading record onto our moodle learning environment, called Bernard, for our English Dept. The plan is to create either Wiki's for the books which different students would contribute to as they read the same book OR a blog per student which can be added to by themselves and the teacher but viewed by all. Would it be a good idea to keep these blogs behind the VLE security, or to use a seperate service like wordpress?

I am mildly concerned about the administration of creating and maintaining 160 blogs.

Any advice anyone can offer on the approach or the minor detail of how to execute this plan would be warmly received.

Yours, Dai

Tags: blogging, blogs, collaborative, english, reading, web2.0, wikis

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I currently debated the same question, and decided to use a wiki that includes a message board. Students engage in discussions using the message board, and then collaboratively write book reports on the wiki. It is a great project, easy to maintain and is extremely motivating.

Check out the project here: http://desbuffalo.wikispaces.com/Literature+%26+Book+Discussions Take a look at "A Wrinkle in Time" for a sample discussion, and "Letters from Rifka" for a pretty interesting book report/wiki page.

This became a full action research project that is posted here, if you want to read much more about the specifics. Please feel free to participate in a discussion about this project. I am presenting this at a conference in early April: http://smuconf08.wikispaces.com and would love to add your voices to the discussion!
Bev this is a great idea and if you don't mind I would like to try this with my class using their wikis. My grade 8 clas has both blog and wikis being used so this year I am attempting use both to see what works best in my classroom.

Thanks Lee
I have moodle, a weblog and a wiki. Teaching US History freshman I will use different sites dependent upon the assignment.
Hi Dai,
Did we meet at Channel 4?

As to admining the blogs, do you have your own Hosting solution? If so, I can recommend installing WordPress Multi-User. We have over 400 student blogs set up (though sadly, not all are being used!).

It is a relatively easy matter to add new blogs to an RSS reader as they are set up (You can get a Wordpress plugin that will do this automatically). After that, it's simply a case of finding the time (or delegating) to give them a glance as new posts are made.

You can do a bulk input of users, but I'd have to pass you on to someone else for how to do this (ours have been on an individual basis).

Get in touch if you want more info.

Cheers,
Neil W
http://nwinton.wordpress.com
For your own sanity, go with the wiki. You can easily set one up through wikispaces.com. The premium version is free to educators. Then, you can just divide the responses into groups or classes or whatever makes the most sense to you. You can also trace the history to see who is adding to the wiki and what time he or she is doing it.

My 9th grade class just built this wiki: http://reidenglish.wikispaces.com
Have you considered forums in Moodle? I've used them in the past to have students respond to prompts for discussion. We are currently using them as a discussion platform for a wiki we're creating with our sister school. Because responses are threaded and include the name of the student, it would be easy to track student comments. Once students post, though, there is a very limited time to change comments and they can no longer be edited. Set up is easy - just set up a separate forum for each title being read. The forums can be viewed by anyone who is enrolled in your moodle class. You also have an option of rating the comments. Hope this helps.
I like the answer about wikis because I'm having to make many decisions about blogging or wikis for students and I agree with WIKIs...
Here's a different way to broadcast yourself, check it out. If interesting you can create your own. http://www.iteachtoo.com/index.cfm?go=journal.viewpublic&Journa...
I set up a wiki at Wikispaces with my Biology class to follow current events. It was my first attempt at this kind of endeavor. I wanted to do a trial run now before school ended so I could get some insight into it and improve it for the next school year. We used the discussion board on the wiki to talk about the news article I presented to them.

It was a great success in my opinion. Students were able to respond to each other and I could guide their discussions. Before long, some students were sharing URLs and videos about the topic. One student in my class who usually is very fidgety was into the whole discussion. I suspect it felt like a "chat room" of sorts and that's why they were into it. We even got into a discussion about ethics - something I didn't expect, but was very welcome.

I was able to moderate comments, so anything that wasn't appropriate was removed (only 2). Students were very willing to help each other, too. I can lock a discussion when we are done so kids can move on to the next one (but still review it if they want). I liked having all the info in one place (vs. students having their own blog).

Drawbacks -- need to remember to use first name of students only - don't want last names for safety and confidentiality reasons (I'm going to change that). Couldn't really sort by author (or I didn't think to try).

I cannot imagine what this would have looked like on a blog. Something I would have to try.....

I think it all boils down to this --- what is your goal with the activity? Then use the technology to meet your goal. Not the other way around. There's plenty of technology options out there. You just want to find the one that helps you facilitate how students achieve the objectives you set.

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