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'm sort of missing the point of what you are asking the students to do. It seems like that's the basic thing that will determine blog vs. wiki, and then you can solve the logistical issues.

A wiki is not a good idea for an evolving discussion. It might be good, however, if you were asking a group of students to create a synopsis of the book, or a script for a trailer for the movie version of the book, or some other assignment where there is a specific product being created collaboratively.

If you are asking students for their personal reactions and want to stimulate discussion as they read these books, I think you will want to go with a blog or a threaded discussion board. These create a record over time, and allow for personal expression within the group.

I think Ben is completely right on this - whatever you do, create student ownership of this. If it's all up to you and you get overwhelmed, it won't work. Let the kids help figure it out and administer it. They will be both tougher on misbehavior and provide more support for their peers than you can--if they feel it's theirs.
Lot's of interesting/stimulating thoughts. The plan so far is two-fold:

1. Use blog feature for every student to record their individual reading progress.

2. Get class groups of four or five and set them to work creating a wiki each of the class reading book. This should introduce the idea of collaborative writing enhanced with basic HTML formatting and CamelCase. Once comfortable, students switch groups and take their contributions to the next wiki; maybe edit some of it with whatever thoughts they bring to the group. Break them in gently so to speak.

These will kick off in the autumn term once they are settled into reading routine.

The teacher I am working with is going to be looking at trialling new ways of assessing literacy which incorporates multimedia. It's called MultiModal and has been developed by the professors at the university she is studying at. If anyone has tried a different method of literacy assessment that embraces different media please let me know. An example of this is the cross-over between reading/writing and oral assessment in the current National Literacy Strategy/Framework. Do we need to have a bolt-on assessment structure for all this new media?

Also, I'm interested to see if there is an existing alternative structure in other countries. Any URLs for literacy strategies outside the UK would be warmly received.

Thanks to all who submitted thoughts and ideas. Will keep posting about our progress.

Dai
Wikis are much more powerful and are easy to use once your logged in and editing.

We use JSPWiki. IBM and other "fortune 500" companies are using the same type of wiki. Teachers may use the public services education communities secure wiki or migrate and download the Wiki and contents to their own school server for wide spread collaboration organized by geographic areas. There are also tools and resources that may be simply copied and pasted into your own pages. Members may customize dynamic left menus for any of their pages.
A drawing whiteboard with linking is also available and Google App plugins are also being used within teacher wiki pages. There are over 12000 education and wiki page resources.

What is a Wiki?

http://helpingstudents.org/JSPWiki/Wiki.jsp?page=Wikis

Instructional Stratagies and Design Wiki Project example:

http://helpingstudents.org/JSPWiki/Wiki.jsp?page=BradleyUniversityE...

Demonstrates version control system for all page changes


http://helpingstudents.org/JSPWiki/PageInfo.jsp?page=BradleyUnivers...
http://helpingstudents.org/JSPWiki/Wiki.jsp?page=RecentChanges

Wiki Whiteboard

http://helpingstudents.org/JSPWiki/

Parent Information Resources

http://helpingstudents.org/JSPWiki/Wiki.jsp?page=Parents

A-Z College Links and resources Wikis

http://helpingstudents.org/JSPWiki/Wiki.jsp?page=CollegeWikis

Our process requires teachers and teacher's members only and we verify member backgrounds.

Teachers welcome,
Michael Misovec
President and Program Administrator
HelpingStudents.org
Hi, Dai,

I suppose firstly it depends on the ability and experience of your students. I come down on the side of the blog - particualarly Edublog for several reasons. As far as I can see:

1. You can set up all the user accounts through a simple .csv file which you can extract from your MIS.

2. You can allocate the students to groups or let them select friends according to your instructions about forming groups.

3. You can make the access limited to authorised users so that it does not need to reside within the VLE and the creation of pseudonyms is thus optional.

4. Most importantly, I think that it's easier to track progress and have a complete audit-trail so as to assess the contributions of each and every student.

I hope to start using this with some groups when we start again in September.
Have you seen http://www.librarything.com?

it may also be useful as a reading record - less work and easier to manage so many of them~!
Hi Dai
I set up 12 student blogs as a trial linked to my class blog. They used them to respond to the texts we were reading and viewing in class. When I do it again with a larger group I'm thinking using a feed aggregator will be the best way to manage the postings??

My blog and student blogs - http://blog-mrs-c.blogspot.com/

Alison
I would have to say that I have been thinking about the same thing and I think I am going to go with a blog..I feel because the Wiki can be edited at any time the blog may cause less of a headache. Once the blog is posted that's it, I think it will also help when it comes to due dates and all... good luck!
This is a third option, but our teachers who were trying to use blogs or wikis for book discussions found that they weren't serving their needs very well when students were reading so many different books, so they ended up using threaded discussion boards. I imagine Moodle has some internally, but NiceNet offers a threaded discussion board as well, that you could use.

That way each student could start a new thread for their book, but could add to each other's postings.

If you do decide on using blogs, don't forget that you can use a tool like Pageflakes to set up a visual feed of all their blogs to one main page. Also, 21classes blogging tool actually does create a page like that with little snippets from many different blogs that are pulled onto a main page.

The question I have is whether you are wanting them to interact, just create a page of their thoughts about the book and significant quotes, or read other people's? I'd choose different tools for different purposes.

One other site you might want to consider if you are really just wanting them to create a page of thoughts/quotes, etc. about their book is tumblr.com. It's more like a scrapbook type of blog site, but it's very easy to use, has an RSS feed, so you could subscribe to their page, but doesn't require comments. They can add photos, significant quotes, or write about their books, so it's fairly versatile.

Again, just depends on your purpose?
We discussed book discussions here a couple of months ago. I've been doing two book discussions for the last 8 weeks using Moodle (which was the winner after trying other options) You can see how things are going at http://www.smsdonline.org/login/index.php Username and password both baguest. Let me know if you want to discuss the pros and cons. It's tons of work. N
I really liked your discussions. I think that's exactly what I'm looking for. I went to Moodle's site and got overwhelmed. How much work is it really? I like the fact that I can see all students' responses and that they reply to each others' responses. Could the whole class go to the lab and have a conversation with their comments?

The other idea I was toying with was some kind of instant messaging where I could see all the posts. We need something either on the school network only or on a password protected site. I have a small blog (my first) on my website, but our school parents would not be pleased if their students' comments could be found by strangers. Any ideas?
What an interesting way to get people interested in reading! Book trailers are like movie trailers, but for books! You can find them all over the internet now, but here is a site that's featuring them on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/booktrailers
In this case think it would make more sense to use WIKIs for each group of students to contribute to rather than a blog. That way you would have one particular WIKI for a corresponding book rather than a whole bunch of individual blogs that correspond to the same books. Using a WiKI will also allow students to add and edit to each others contributions to the book discussions whereas a Blog will only allow group members to simply view what their peers have to say about the book that they are reading. A blog would be more useful for individual assignments such as weekly journals that may require individual opinions to a particular reading.

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