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Over in the day job, most of my energy is spent on Glow Blog. I am also acting as ‘product owner’ for Glow Wikiis too. The went live with little fanfare in January and have been ticking along ever since.

We are now about to offer some support in using the wikis to interested teachers and classes. This support will take two different tacks, one aimed at individual staff and the other at classes.
The support will be online, through Glow Meet, documentation and some wiki tasks.

The Staff support will consist of a Glow Meet going over the basic of wikis and some practise in wiki editing supported, if needed, by the meet.

The class support will be for classes with an idea of what they want to do. A wiki will be set up and the pupils initially introduced in the same way as the staff. Ongoing dialog with the class will be kept up in their wikis discussion.

You can read more on a page the main Glow Wiki: Wiki Warm Ups where there is a link to register interest, help decide dates etc.

I feel wikis are Glows secret weapon, their simplicity and ease of use offering an quick way into online collaboration, collective publishing and more.

We probably need to give more thought and discussion as to why you would use a wiki as opposed to a blog, OneNote or a SharePoint group and I hope to think aloud about that here soon.

WIKI

Photo credit: WIKI by Kevin Baird, on Flickr Creative Commons — CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Along side the blog migration for Glow I’ve been working on the wiki procurement. Wikis were part of the services added to Glow in 2010 (AFAIR) along with blogs and forums. When it came to think about the new services and migration wiki migration was not in the plans and wikis were not on the map of new services.

The previous wiki solution was not particularly well used, around 4000 wikis were created over the projects lifetime (compare to >130,000 blogs). The software behind the wikis was mindtouch. This is now discontinued and I believe missed a few features that make wikis useful in the classroom. These included nice themes and a simple workflow for uploading and embedding images.

It was decided to look at the possibilities for continuing to have wikis as part of the glow offering. This might seem counter intuitive as O365 sharepoint sites can be though of as Wikis and certainly have wiki pages as part of sites. I think a separate wiki offers a simpler way of building on the internet and it is also important to have the facility to make a wiki public in some instances.

Personally I’ve had enough success with children publishing publicly on the internet that that would be my default position. Other teachers and educators may prefer closed environments and glow can provide for both.

As part of the process of provisioning wikis we evaluated many different solutions, wikispaces stood out as the best fit for our needs1. Wikispaces was also mentioned frequently by the folk who responded to our wiki survey. No other product was mentioned favourably.

As part of procurement three different vendors were invited to tender and their tenders evaluated against a set of requirements. Wikispaces were the best fit and their tender has been accepted.

It has been a while since I used wikispaces in the classroom but it looks like they have added a lot of classroom specific features to the service without over complicating the process. I am not exactly sure of how the wikis will connect up to glow but look forward to working on that development in the coming weeks.

I had a brief look through my bookmarks for interesting wikis which might give you an idea of how to use one:

As always I’d be interested to see how learners and teachers in Scotland are or would use wikispaces.


Footnotes:

1. Personally I like wikitext and enjoyed using wikis that are not WYSIWYG but I think I am in a minority on that one.

Glow has added wikis to it list of features.

What is a wiki? (from wikipedia):

A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopaedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis.

Examples of wikis edited by pupils( not glow ones):

  1. australiatopic
  2. A Broken World
  3. Year 7 Mathex
  4. Sandaig Primary Wiki

Background on using wikis, blog posts by Neil Winton (Perth Acedemy):

  1. SLF08 – Wikis Part 1
  2. SLF08 – Wikis Part 2

Example of wikis used by teachers to share resources ( not glow ones):

Sample Glow Wiki with information on wikis which you are free to edit (glow logon required)

Wiki category of Glow Help blog

The Glow folk have started a Scotland Schools Wiki

“Over time we hope that this wiki will build into a ‘Domesday Book’ of schools in Scotland in the 21st century.”

Any glow user can add pages for their school and edit pages

Nice things about wikis:

  • collaboration
  • tracking of edits you can see you did what
  • easy to roll back to previous version is someone makes a mistake.

Best thing about glow wikis: Much easier than glow pages to edit, think a Text Editor that works.



A while ago (2 years, time flies!) I blogged some GarageBand plans for making simple music in class. I used it a lot at Sandaig, resulting in the Sandaig jukebox.

I’ve been using the technique again in developing some glow ict groups in North Lanarkshire.

This has given me the chance to work with some pupils again and to improve my instructions. Yesterday I decided to try and screencast the procedure and the result is show above. The process let me work a bit more with ScreenFlow, which is a lovely screencast editor. I am still working on my presentation skills which results in a few odd pauses and repetitions, but I though the movie worth publishing.

It also gave me a opportunity to test our Apple Wiki Server to publish the screencast: Simple Music with GarageBand. The Apple Wiki server provides one of the easiest to use podcast publishers I have seen, although configuring and theming the wikis and blog is a bit tricky. I was lucky to have one of the North Lanarkshire network guys set up the server and get me started. I am looking forward to finding a school or two who would be interested in some podcasting.

Some of the experience in themeing the wiki helped me in setting up some glow groups, I found some interesting ways to get glow to do what I want and hope to get the chance to talk about this for 7 minutes at TeachmeetSLF09 on Glow Hacking on Wednesday night.

sandaig home

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post and may be a while before the next. This will be a even more unfocused post than usual. I part the last of activity has been down to being to busy and in some cases frustrated with technology. Network problems have slowed down some of the projects I’ve been working on in school and I’ve spend a fair bit of my NCC time fault reporting.

I have been using a couple of wikis with some success. On our own site I’ve been working with a class one afternoon a week on challenged based learning, the latest Instrument Challenge section of the wiki is nearly finished. This is using pmwiki. I am afraid that the method used to post images and sounds is a little too complex for a class I only see once a week. PmWiki requires the children to name the file rather than just upload it, this has lead to one or two cases of files being over written. Other files have been uploaded with out giving them extensions making them unusable. The attach, go back to page, and add image by typing. is more complex that uploading an image to a blog. My own class have been using a wikispaces wiki and one or two have started adding to their pages from home. We have had quite a few problems in school when wikispaces seems to freeze, I’ve not seen this at home but I text to use the text module rather than the wysiwyg. The freeze also might be caused by network slowdown which is also making both wikis sometime frustrating to use.
I am quite pleased with the possibilities of wikis although my heart is still with blogs. Hopefully next session I’ll have a chance to use wikis again, next time I’ll spend a bit more time getting the children familiar with the use before using then in anger.

I’ve not managed to use Exhibit, which I tested in the holidays, the network does not allow something that is going on there. I think I’ve managed to work around it with a wee kludge but it is not ideal. I do hope to let the children test it in a couple of weeks.

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The last week or so I’ve been preparing for our trip to the Netherlands. I’ve set up another blog: Sandaig Netherlands 2008 and A moblog of sorts incase we cannot find a internet connection. Hopefully the children will post audio, video, photos and text to report on the trip and talk to their families. We leave on Sunday morning and return the following friday afternoon.

garden logo
I also hope that my own class, most of whom I am leaving at school will keep up some online activity. maybe update the wiki and blog, but I really want them to keep up the How does our Garden Go photo a day project. They have been doing ell so far, posting a photo of our school garden everyday for a couple of weeks. The idea is to document the changes, both seasonal and ecological and practise and think about taking photos.

There have also been new songs on the Sandaig Jukebox, another episode of Radio Sandaig and some Eco Ninjas posters added to the site in the last couple of weeks, no wonder I’ve not had time to blog.

For a blog that claims to be mostly what we are doing with ict in class I’ve not posted much about that recently. Things have be coming a bit thick and fast for reflection. This is just a wee note about some things that have been going on over the last couple of weeks.

cd lauren 180

One afternoon a week I take a bunch of children from or primary six classes to work on self esteem, emotional literacy and the like through practical activities. The most recent activity is drawing to a close. It this the children created short tunes with GarageBand, then designed covers for a cd. The covers were further edited with picnik. We then burned cds with all 12 tracks and published the mp3s and art on the website: Sandaig Primary Wiki Primary6Project. The children are in the middle of adding a bit of writing to the wiki to round up the project.

Juke tn

We have been using GarageBand around the school too. My musical ability has been taken to its limit just making a minute of loop music so I’ve roped in our peripatetic music teacher Martian Douglas who is working with groups of children on a Friday afternoon. At the moment they are just using the loops provided, but Martin is working on incorporating drumming and guitar played by the children. The music made so far can be heard on the Sandaig Jukebox.

On Wednesday afternoons I teach ‘the other’ primary six class to cover NCC time. This term I am teaching the Sound part of the glasgow Sound and light topic. I am using a modified topic created by Alisa Barr of nearby Mount Vernon Primary when the children work in groups on challenges to cover the learning outcomes. This has been quite challenging for me and i am not sure I spent enough time on preparing for group work, despite the fat I had attended a couple of cpd events by Alisa on just that.
I’ve give the topic a slight web 2 spin as I present the challenges on the Sandaig Primary Wiki SoundAndLight. The first challenge we did as a class and published our findings as a mp3. The next section was on The Ear and the groups tried a variety of ways of reporting their findings. In the current challenge Sound Travels different groups have been set different tasks and seem to be widening there reporting methods (not published yet).

These two project have been my first step of using a wiki at school, at the moment the children need support for publishing but hopefully this will improve. Some of the publishing is a bit tricky, eg powerpoint to slideshare and then a recipe to put on wiki. I am using PmWiki which is not wysiwyg but seems to be working out well enough.

The topic was interrupted this week by health week which should have been a excellent chance to get the children blogging, but in reality they were to busy with activities, there is a wee movie in the works and hopefully it will be blogged next week.

In the midst of the Health week we had a visit from Johanna Hall from BBC Scotland, Johanna had commented on the Sandaig Otters’ blog about Radio Sandaig. She came in to give the children a chance to work on recording some content for the BBC (links when I know them). She also gave a masterclass on speaking and recording for the 12 children involved which I hope they will cascade to their classmates. This also gave me a bit of impetus to get the podcast flowing and we put out a special this week with another one nearly finished. My HT kindly gave me some time out of class to work on these before Johanna’s visit. Johanna took them away with her recording to work into an up and coming BBC production.

I am sure I’ve missed one or two things out, but that is probably quite enough for now.

Blogged from tm

Just noticed VidDownloader – Back Again! – Download Youtube, Google, Myspace, Break.com…videos in DIVx Avi Format which might be useful at home if you want to download youtube etc and take to school. I found that one via popurls | popular urls to the latest web buzz a useful home type page.

And an interesting looking wiki Wiki – AboutUs, this seem to auto generate a new page and content when you search for a domain name: eg SandaIgPrimary.co.uk – AboutUs. There was no page for SandaIgPrimary.co.uk when I searched for it, but the wiki pulled in information about location (based on web host), generated a screenshot and a Description. The description was interesting, as it was pulled from the about.html page, I guess the wiki software checks for an about.html (and others?) from the domain and tries to find a meaningful piece of text. I think it looks for a meta tag description first, but I’ve never got round to adding one. You can then go on and edit the information in the normal wiki fashion.

John @ Sandaig PrimaryI got to the AboutUs wiki in an interesting fashion. One of the things I do in my spare time is webmaster for The Tai Chi Union For Great Britain. I was mailing back and forth about some stuff with another member who runs a webhosting service Recursion (As I’ve mentioned recursion is one of my favourite words. Gordons blog is suitable named; The Loopzilla. From his hosting site I saw he was interested in wikis and he sent me the AboutUs wiki link. He also mentioned he was friends with Linda H who joined in with a lovely conversation with our primary 4s and links to Sandaig on her Classroom Displays blog.