Collection: RAINING CHATS AND BLOGS

2010/2011 Raining Chats and Blogs

Tags: eLearning, collaborativelearning, collaboration, blogs, portfolio

My eLearning journey.

Last Year

Last year was very much a foray into the ‘cloud’ and gleaning loads of ideas but only able to ground some of them. Why would it happen any other way?Smile! I took total ownership of the first blog I used for my Year 13 class doing 3.1 Travel Writing. This was helpful as a teaching tool as I could show the snippets I had put on the blog to the class and teach to the strengths and weaknesses of these. The students were also encouraged by the presentation of their published work. The limitation was that I could only do what I had time for and so not all the student’s writing was published. 

From here I branched out to every student having a page of a wiki blog – that foray was thwarted by time, system and management constraints. At the end of the year I used Edublogs to publish material pertinent to my Senior classes for revision and used Facebook ( a school account that had nothing to do with my personal one, for obvious reasons) as a medium for posting links to the blog for them to follow up on. The idea was for all of them to have a blog for posting their practice essays but once again time and system constraints got in the way of that materialising.

By the way Facebook worked really well as a social networking tool. 98% of the students were already on Facebook.  I deleted their walls as soon as they were accepted as friends on the school one I had set up. (More obvious reasonsSmile). It proved to be a good way for them to ask me questions outside of class; great for posting homework that they would see before they even opened the fridge.

 

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My eLearning journey

Tags: blogs, collaboration, collaborativelearning, eLearning, portfolio

April Update

For the April update I will redirect you to http://chatsandblogs.wikispaces.com/ as that holds a summary of what I presented in a workshop at the IFTE conference on the 19th April. My year 13 class have  started to use MyPortfolio to create a digital portfolio of their essays and the feedback they get on their essays so that they can create a learning dialogue to build on and they also share their ideas through the forums. I am quite excited about how this is all working out and very interested to get their feedback on it too which is also on the wiki. The majority of the group are participating and see the whole process as beneficial. Some are still struggling with the mechanics of using MyPortfolio and some with finding the time to do this but I think in the longrun it is going to greatly benefit them and enhance their achievement.

March update

The journey continues - highlights and lowlights as with any journey I guess.

Success at last!

The vast majority of students did manage to share pages on pre-reading materials - some pages disappeared when 'released' so need to look into that one.

Found out that the best way of getting forum discussion going was to have very specific topics. When I consider how often I ask the students to be specific I cringe that I didn't think of this earlier. A topic was created for each character in the novel and a framework for discussion given out which generated some very interesting conversations.

Lowlights

As already mentioned some 'shared' pages disappeared off the group profile when 'released' so hard to keep track of everyone.  Hoping to sort out why this happens at the  MyPortfolio session that I am going to this afternoon.

Need ways of organising the material coming onto the group pages so that it is manageable.

The 'sharing' process still needs to be systemised in my own mind  - a little ad hoc at the moment and doesn't always work. Once I have a better understanding of it I would like to try to use something like Screenr to have a visual guide that will demonstrate the process for the students. I thought the page shared on MyPortfolio where something similar had been done for writing journals and adding to Portfolios was the best user friendly guide I had seen.

Trying to add this to my Portfolio is tricky as it looks like I can only edit on a page by page basis -  something else to sort out.

 Next steps

The students are starting to write essays and the idea is to build up a portfolio of responses to show their progress and to give them a bank of material to draw on when preparing for the external exams in Term Four. The students will also be working collaboratively on their essays through sharing with each other in groups of four on MyPortfolio.

Raining Chats and Blogs Feb update

It was really helpful to revisit what happened in 2010 and figure out what I had learnt from that and what I needed to do to ensure better success this year.

MyPortfolio has been a great platform to get started on. The main reason it has been so helpful is that I was able to enter my entire class as users and set up their accounts beforehand. Last year I tried doing this in the computer lab with a whole class but the whole system was too slow for it to work effectively and leaving the students to create their own blogs at home just didn't work either.

I placed a 'netiquette' document on the school intranet which the students had to read and sign their names on a forum to follow the usual practice of agreeing to 'terms and conditions' that precedes signing up for anything on the internet.  The document basically set the rules for safe internet use and established that for our purposes MyPortfolio operates the same as a classroom and the same rules of respect apply.  The school intranet also works well as a central place to post links to MyPortfolio.

The students now have the task of journalling some of their pre-reading tasks for "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. I will be using this activity as a way of getting used to how MyPortfolio works and then when it comes to using it for collaboration on essays and building up a portfolio of essays it will hopefully work well.

Prior to the MyPortfolio activities we did some group work in class to begin to build a collaborative learning ethos.

I have 5 days I will be away for a conference and a camp and am hoping to use MyPortfolio as a way of keeping an eye on how the work is progressing in my absence. 

The plan for 2011


Start with getting my year 13’s on Myportfolio  to give them an opportunity of having their own blogs and building a portfolio of practice essays which will be a basis for collaborative learning.

My classroom is set up in groups of four and already the students have been doing some group work and feeding back to the rest of the class. I will be presenting the idea of collaborative learning on Myportfolio as an extension of what they have been doing in the classroom so that they have a reference point for what we will be doing. In order to get the ‘buy in’ I am thinking of co-constructing report comments that I can use in relation to their collaborative work on the blogs.  This way they will have some ownership of it as well as see that it is an important part of their learning.  The students will have an annotated version of the success criteria to work with for the collaborative process as well as the whole process being first carried out in class with teacher direction so that we are all on the same page.

What I learnt

What I learnt:

Keep it simple!

Plan carefully and make sure the primary focus is their learning outcomes.

Have a back up plan for when the system doesn’t work or be prepared to salvage the situation by following a slightly different track. (A key competency for all teachers!).

Make sure the students understand the goals, the way it all works; what they are expected to do;  and the benefits. 

Make sure the students have a means of gaining ‘help’ with any part of the process where possible and this might mean outside of class time. (Facebook will probably come in handy for this).

Work on a way to have the students ‘buy in’ to the idea.

Myportfolio will probably work for what I need as I can set all the students up with their own portfolio (sidestepping system and management constraints) plus it offers a range of other possiblities.

 

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Bloggled

2010

I started getting interested in using blogs as a way of enhancing learning last year.  I was particularly interested in how blogs allow students to publish to a wider audience than just their teacher; how they afford opportunities for collaborative learning and all the associated advantages; and how blogs give an opportunity for students to build up a portfolio of work that is not going to get lost or misplaced along the way.

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New horizons

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What I learnt

What I learnt:

Keep it simple!

Plan carefully and make sure the primary focus is their learning outcomes.

Have a back up plan for when the system doesn’t work or be prepared to salvage the situation by following a slightly different track. (A key competency for all teachers!).

Make sure the students understand the goals, the way it all works; what they are expected to do;  and the benefits. 

Make sure the students have a means of gaining ‘help’ with any part of the process where possible and this might mean outside of class time. (Facebook will probably come in handy for this).

Work on a way to have the students ‘buy in’ to the idea.

Myportfolio will probably work for what I need as I can set all the students up with their own portfolio (sidestepping system and management constraints) plus it offers a range of other possiblities.

 

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Starting out

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The plan for 2011


Start with getting my year 13’s on Myportfolio  to give them an opportunity of having their own blogs and building a portfolio of practice essays which will be a basis for collaborative learning.

My classroom is set up in groups of four and already the students have been doing some group work and feeding back to the rest of the class. I will be presenting the idea of collaborative learning on Myportfolio as an extension of what they have been doing in the classroom so that they have a reference point for what we will be doing. In order to get the ‘buy in’ I am thinking of co-constructing report comments that I can use in relation to their collaborative work on the blogs.  This way they will have some ownership of it as well as see that it is an important part of their learning.  The students will have an annotated version of the success criteria to work with for the collaborative process as well as the whole process being first carried out in class with teacher direction so that we are all on the same page.

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