Monthly Archives: March 2010

Why use a wiki?⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

Wikis work where they are enable asynchronous collaboration with different time/ different place creating an inter-subjective space that glues the collaborative learning together.  In the previous post I described how wikis can be used as a web page/ show page of work children have created.  My collaborative project, Voices Of the World is testimony to this style, a collaborative showcase of what children create around the world.  Children working together, different time and place, to learn from one another.


This type of collaboration fits into areas of the two types of activities that Larusson & Alterman (2009) refer to as: tightly coupled activities and loosely coupled activities.

Tightly Coupled Activities - connect to create shared products.  Students must stay coordinated and focus on key materials.

Loosely Coupled Activities - connect but do not need an end product.  Not every contribution must be recognised.

VOTW relates to the Tightly Coupled Activity in that schools around the world must adhere to the rules of the monthly task to create a product that children around the world will be able to listen to and understand.  The Loosely Coupled Activities relates to the aspect where not all schools have to contribute every month.  This is where collaborative projects, with a large amount of collaborators can either get it right or wrong.  If you force people to contribute then they will leave, if you leave people to contribute when they want there is a possibility that no contributions are given.  A balance between to the types of activities is required to ensure all are comfortable in the level of participation required.

Two questions to ask in any computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments:

* Did students learn?
* Did technology support collaboration

A third question I would add:

* Could the learning and collaboration occur successfully without the technology?

If you can answer yes to the above questions then you are using the correct tool for the job.

Why use a wiki?⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

Wikis work where they are enable asynchronous collaboration with different time/ different place creating an inter-subjective space that glues the collaborative learning together.  In the previous post I described how wikis can be used as a web page/ show page of work children have created.  My collaborative project, Voices Of the World is testimony to this style, a collaborative showcase of what children create around the world.  Children working together, different time and place, to learn from one another.


This type of collaboration fits into areas of the two types of activities that Larusson & Alterman (2009) refer to as: tightly coupled activities and loosely coupled activities.

Tightly Coupled Activities - connect to create shared products.  Students must stay coordinated and focus on key materials.

Loosely Coupled Activities - connect but do not need an end product.  Not every contribution must be recognised.

VOTW relates to the Tightly Coupled Activity in that schools around the world must adhere to the rules of the monthly task to create a product that children around the world will be able to listen to and understand.  The Loosely Coupled Activities relates to the aspect where not all schools have to contribute every month.  This is where collaborative projects, with a large amount of collaborators can either get it right or wrong.  If you force people to contribute then they will leave, if you leave people to contribute when they want there is a possibility that no contributions are given.  A balance between to the types of activities is required to ensure all are comfortable in the level of participation required.

Two questions to ask in any computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments:

* Did students learn?
* Did technology support collaboration

A third question I would add:

* Could the learning and collaboration occur successfully without the technology?

If you can answer yes to the above questions then you are using the correct tool for the job.

A Wiki, A Blog or A Forum?⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

Web 2.0 is full of a range of tools that can be used effectively in the learning environment, however, like any tool one needs to justify why they are using it and not all tools are used for the purpose they were created.  Screwdrivers were made for getting screws in or out of an object but many of use use them for other things: opening paint tins, scrapping small thing out small spaces etc...

Making a decision regarding a tool to use is the easiest part, however, sometimes the decision is not the best one.  Let's take three Web tools that can be found in many learning platforms of used as separate entities from the web: Blogs, Wikis and Forums.

Why do we use these?  How do we use these?  Is this the best tool for the job?  Could we do the task more effectively using another medium?

According to Warlick (2005), each of these tools have specific purposes:

Blog - used to communicate or deliver a message to a specific audience.

Wiki - content management system used to construct a collaborative document.

Forum - a conversation that builds on ideas through constructing new knowledge by reflecting and reacting.

Many educators use blogs personally or with children to communicate to a wider audience information.  It is used as a way of sharing information.  A bit like a news board but reaching a wider audience and with a facility to retrieve old posts through effective tagging.  I used this style of blogging when a primary teacher at High School of Dundee to share our learning with the wider community or to publish our fortnightly radio shows.  I did not, however, use the blog in isolation due to the moveable nature of the blog posts where items can be lost in archives, wikispaces were also used to have a permanent quick visual record of what we had created similar to a website.

Using wikis as a means to store and share information is the prime method of implementation in education rather than the collaborative document creation that they were designed for.  The reason being is that wikis are only collaborative asynchronously meaning that children can not collaborate real time.

The last tool, Forums, which are in many virtual learning environments, are used in many educational settings from schools to further education.  In Scotland's National Education Network GLOW, many schools are implementing the use of Forums to connect, share and collaborate with children inside and outside school.  Many are using the tool effectively to deepen and extend knowledge through the discussion aspect and many are using ineffectively through posting content to these areas without the collaborative conversation taking place.  Should another tool be used instead to publish if no communication is initiated?

Out of the three tools, Forums appear to be the least effective tool due to three aspects: non-instant chat, no facilitation or goal and no RSS feeds on some.  Today's technology enables instant communication and collaboration with others that Forums can sometimes not provide.  The delay in response can be frustrating that a different method of communication is chosen.  There is, however, a positive side to this delay, it provides thinking time and does not pressurise the reader to respond.  The other aspect, facilitation, is what can keep a forum alive.  To create a question on a forum and never return to engage with others provides a simple statement rather than a conversation.  Facilitation can be through only opening a Forum at a specific time where the users know there will be someone there to read and respond to their posts.  An open forum, where facilitation is as and when needed will only work effectively if there is an RSS feed attached to the forum discussion.  The forums in Ning use RSS effectively by notify the members when a new post has arrived.  Members can respond freely, however, what keeps these forums alive are the key players who create a forum question returning and interacting with their members where a conversation is developed.

Do you use blogs, wikis or forums in your educational setting and are you using the correct tool for the job?

A Wiki, A Blog or A Forum?⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

Web 2.0 is full of a range of tools that can be used effectively in the learning environment, however, like any tool one needs to justify why they are using it and not all tools are used for the purpose they were created.  Screwdrivers were made for getting screws in or out of an object but many of use use them for other things: opening paint tins, scrapping small thing out small spaces etc...

Making a decision regarding a tool to use is the easiest part, however, sometimes the decision is not the best one.  Let's take three Web tools that can be found in many learning platforms of used as separate entities from the web: Blogs, Wikis and Forums.

Why do we use these?  How do we use these?  Is this the best tool for the job?  Could we do the task more effectively using another medium?

According to Warlick (2005), each of these tools have specific purposes:

Blog - used to communicate or deliver a message to a specific audience.

Wiki - content management system used to construct a collaborative document.

Forum - a conversation that builds on ideas through constructing new knowledge by reflecting and reacting.

Many educators use blogs personally or with children to communicate to a wider audience information.  It is used as a way of sharing information.  A bit like a news board but reaching a wider audience and with a facility to retrieve old posts through effective tagging.  I used this style of blogging when a primary teacher at High School of Dundee to share our learning with the wider community or to publish our fortnightly radio shows.  I did not, however, use the blog in isolation due to the moveable nature of the blog posts where items can be lost in archives, wikispaces were also used to have a permanent quick visual record of what we had created similar to a website.

Using wikis as a means to store and share information is the prime method of implementation in education rather than the collaborative document creation that they were designed for.  The reason being is that wikis are only collaborative asynchronously meaning that children can not collaborate real time.

The last tool, Forums, which are in many virtual learning environments, are used in many educational settings from schools to further education.  In Scotland's National Education Network GLOW, many schools are implementing the use of Forums to connect, share and collaborate with children inside and outside school.  Many are using the tool effectively to deepen and extend knowledge through the discussion aspect and many are using ineffectively through posting content to these areas without the collaborative conversation taking place.  Should another tool be used instead to publish if no communication is initiated?

Out of the three tools, Forums appear to be the least effective tool due to three aspects: non-instant chat, no facilitation or goal and no RSS feeds on some.  Today's technology enables instant communication and collaboration with others that Forums can sometimes not provide.  The delay in response can be frustrating that a different method of communication is chosen.  There is, however, a positive side to this delay, it provides thinking time and does not pressurise the reader to respond.  The other aspect, facilitation, is what can keep a forum alive.  To create a question on a forum and never return to engage with others provides a simple statement rather than a conversation.  Facilitation can be through only opening a Forum at a specific time where the users know there will be someone there to read and respond to their posts.  An open forum, where facilitation is as and when needed will only work effectively if there is an RSS feed attached to the forum discussion.  The forums in Ning use RSS effectively by notify the members when a new post has arrived.  Members can respond freely, however, what keeps these forums alive are the key players who create a forum question returning and interacting with their members where a conversation is developed.

Do you use blogs, wikis or forums in your educational setting and are you using the correct tool for the job?

Do We Still Need Editors?⤴

from @ TecnoTeach





Although written in 2005 this book is now slightly outdated as I review five years on. Blogging was just taking off for many at this period but technology has moved on where there is more instant communication and collaboration occurring.

There are, however, small pockets of information that can be taken from the book with the first being the publishing aspect. Prior to blogging, journalists were the publishers and they had to persuade their editor to publish their stories. This was not a free voice process with the editors editing the stories as they pleased prior to publication. Blogging, changed the wheel where the journalists, alias the Web 2.0 bloggers, no longer have to go past the editor to publish but can freely put their stories on the internet for anyone to read.  Freedom of speech...freedom of text...  To an extent freedom to bypass people enables all to have a voice but for many this freedom can come at a cost.  Apple employees are not allowed to blog and neither are many other employees as the company safeguards what is written about them or by their staff.  In schools, who blog, this authoritarian line is taken by some, to an extent with others and completely ignored by a few.  Why?  This all depends on the systems that are in place.  Some schools are not happy with children blogging freely and do not want children's work to be put in the eye of the public.  An experience I had of this approach came from the school not wanting parents comparing children's work online where enough pressure was placed on the child to achieve without comparing daily against others.  The middle ground, is where teachers allow children to blog but through a moderated environment where the teacher approves children's post prior to publish.  The majority of post that evolve through this method are account of events or learning rather than reflections on personal learning.  The final approach, a free voice for all, is very rare and I am not too sure why such freedom is granted since I have never gone down that route.  Surely, anything that will go out the school building to the public eye should be moderated, like the editor of a newspaper.  I therefore ask the question: should primary children be allowed the freedom to blog freely where their voice can be heard without submitting their voice to an editor first?


If you answer that we are giving children an authentic audience, to an extent this is correct, however, who reads their blogs daily?  All public blogs can be read by anyone, however, Hewitt (2005) explain the notion of 'The Tail'. This reflects the 95 - 99% of blogs that do not get thousands of followers each day. They are the tail at the end of the graph that no one or just some follow.  Our children are 'The Tail' and very few people will read their blogs. Very few people read mine as I am part of 'the tail' too, but, as I have said in previous posts, I do not blog for an audience I blog as a reflective tool where I can dip back and find reflections of readings or educational tools that I have encountered.  Maybe the notion of 'giving all freedom to let their voices be heard to a global audience' is the wrong notion and blogging should be more about what will the benefit be to publishing one's reflections on an open space to recording in a private diary.  Why do I not just use good old Word and type my reflections in there?  Why do I not just buy a paper notebook and scribble my thoughts in there?  The answer to all of these questions is that a blogging connects me with a small group of like-minded people in my 'tail'.  We learn from one another.  Children can learn from one another too rather than just publishing to Web 2.0.  



This takes me back to my questions: 'Do we still need editors?'  As an adult I would say no if I follow the rules of etiquette on the net.  Student teachers - I would say no, however, with the way that many freely write in their social media pages, I would have to say that they still need to be taught net etiquette to ensure the balance between personal and professionalism are not weighed too heavily to one side.  Lastly, as for children, I am still under the impression that moderation is required through an editor, their teacher, to ensure what is placed online represents a school rather than an unguided free voice.  Schools are about providing the conditions that scaffold children's learning and this is no different with technology where it is imperative that children are taught net etiquette to safe guard their futures.

Do We Still Need Editors?⤴

from @ TecnoTeach





Although written in 2005 this book is now slightly outdated as I review five years on. Blogging was just taking off for many at this period but technology has moved on where there is more instant communication and collaboration occurring.

There are, however, small pockets of information that can be taken from the book with the first being the publishing aspect. Prior to blogging, journalists were the publishers and they had to persuade their editor to publish their stories. This was not a free voice process with the editors editing the stories as they pleased prior to publication. Blogging, changed the wheel where the journalists, alias the Web 2.0 bloggers, no longer have to go past the editor to publish but can freely put their stories on the internet for anyone to read.  Freedom of speech...freedom of text...  To an extent freedom to bypass people enables all to have a voice but for many this freedom can come at a cost.  Apple employees are not allowed to blog and neither are many other employees as the company safeguards what is written about them or by their staff.  In schools, who blog, this authoritarian line is taken by some, to an extent with others and completely ignored by a few.  Why?  This all depends on the systems that are in place.  Some schools are not happy with children blogging freely and do not want children's work to be put in the eye of the public.  An experience I had of this approach came from the school not wanting parents comparing children's work online where enough pressure was placed on the child to achieve without comparing daily against others.  The middle ground, is where teachers allow children to blog but through a moderated environment where the teacher approves children's post prior to publish.  The majority of post that evolve through this method are account of events or learning rather than reflections on personal learning.  The final approach, a free voice for all, is very rare and I am not too sure why such freedom is granted since I have never gone down that route.  Surely, anything that will go out the school building to the public eye should be moderated, like the editor of a newspaper.  I therefore ask the question: should primary children be allowed the freedom to blog freely where their voice can be heard without submitting their voice to an editor first?


If you answer that we are giving children an authentic audience, to an extent this is correct, however, who reads their blogs daily?  All public blogs can be read by anyone, however, Hewitt (2005) explain the notion of 'The Tail'. This reflects the 95 - 99% of blogs that do not get thousands of followers each day. They are the tail at the end of the graph that no one or just some follow.  Our children are 'The Tail' and very few people will read their blogs. Very few people read mine as I am part of 'the tail' too, but, as I have said in previous posts, I do not blog for an audience I blog as a reflective tool where I can dip back and find reflections of readings or educational tools that I have encountered.  Maybe the notion of 'giving all freedom to let their voices be heard to a global audience' is the wrong notion and blogging should be more about what will the benefit be to publishing one's reflections on an open space to recording in a private diary.  Why do I not just use good old Word and type my reflections in there?  Why do I not just buy a paper notebook and scribble my thoughts in there?  The answer to all of these questions is that a blogging connects me with a small group of like-minded people in my 'tail'.  We learn from one another.  Children can learn from one another too rather than just publishing to Web 2.0.  



This takes me back to my questions: 'Do we still need editors?'  As an adult I would say no if I follow the rules of etiquette on the net.  Student teachers - I would say no, however, with the way that many freely write in their social media pages, I would have to say that they still need to be taught net etiquette to ensure the balance between personal and professionalism are not weighed too heavily to one side.  Lastly, as for children, I am still under the impression that moderation is required through an editor, their teacher, to ensure what is placed online represents a school rather than an unguided free voice.  Schools are about providing the conditions that scaffold children's learning and this is no different with technology where it is imperative that children are taught net etiquette to safe guard their futures.

Instructional Blogging – The Constructivist Approach⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

'Instructional blogging operates as a knowledge-centered instructional tool.  In this the model the instructor involves students in research activities, engages them in discussion with practitioners, and leads them through development concepts of the discipline's knowledge domain' (Glogoff, S. 2005: 1)


Instructional blogging is the method that I employ with student primary teachers to extent their understanding of a concept.  Some think they are doing blogging to ensure they pass their assignment, however, quite a few see the benefits to instructional blogging in that it enables them to be a reflective practitioner where they can participate in a lecture/ workshop then deepen their understanding through reflecting on the process.

In my previous post related to blogging, I discussed how blogging enables one's voice to be heard and enables those that wish to become online publishers.  The personal act of blogging is one aspect, however, Glogoff (2005) emphasises the social component of learning that are central to Vygotsky's notions of social cognition where peer interaction is an important element in blogging through utilising the comment aspect of a blog to engage in conversations.  To an extent this is true, however, many people are happy to blog without having to engage in the conversation part.  If you are reading this post, then I have to say it is here primarily from my benefit.  If others learn for what I write this is a bonus, however, the main reason I blog is to capture my reflections on technology in education and collate these reflections in a format that is accessible to me.  I do know that many of the my students are not blogging for the collaborative aspect but more because it is part of the course.  They are encouraged to read their peers blogs but only a handful actually do this without  encouragement.  This is a real pity as by reading what others write we learn just like if we listen to what others say, rather than verbalise all the time, we will be able to adjust our thinking and views where appropriate.

When implementing instructional blogging, Clark & Mayer (2003) advocate three instructional techniques: receptive, directive and guided discovery (cited Glogoff 2005).  Of these three techniques I would say I employ the last two where I provided responses to student's posts and direct students to a specific focus to blog about.  Initially, I adopted the receptive technique where students were free to blog about the ICT input they had undertaken.  This technique was changed due to some students not blogging, some basically just saying what happened and some not extending their posts with links to what they were discussing.  It became clear that the art of blogging needs to be taught through the guided discovery technique and the facilitator needs to model effective blogging to students.  This model of learning mirrors the constructivist approach of cognitive scaffolding where students revisit their learning, build upon knowledge, reflect then delve deeper.  The student primary teacher's blogs are a prime example of this style of learning.  By looking through a student's blogging development, one can clearly see how the writer' craft of blogging has developed through constructive comments from tutors and peers and through the student's readings of other blogs.

This takes me back to my comment about why I blog, yes I did say that it is mainly for my own professional reflections, however, the social aspect associated with blogging is part of my culture where I learn from others and hopefully they learn from me too.  Blogging is not a one-to-many act like a church sermon, it is a one-to-many-to-one where we share and learn from one another.

Instructional Blogging – The Constructivist Approach⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

'Instructional blogging operates as a knowledge-centered instructional tool.  In this the model the instructor involves students in research activities, engages them in discussion with practitioners, and leads them through development concepts of the discipline's knowledge domain' (Glogoff, S. 2005: 1)


Instructional blogging is the method that I employ with student primary teachers to extent their understanding of a concept.  Some think they are doing blogging to ensure they pass their assignment, however, quite a few see the benefits to instructional blogging in that it enables them to be a reflective practitioner where they can participate in a lecture/ workshop then deepen their understanding through reflecting on the process.

In my previous post related to blogging, I discussed how blogging enables one's voice to be heard and enables those that wish to become online publishers.  The personal act of blogging is one aspect, however, Glogoff (2005) emphasises the social component of learning that are central to Vygotsky's notions of social cognition where peer interaction is an important element in blogging through utilising the comment aspect of a blog to engage in conversations.  To an extent this is true, however, many people are happy to blog without having to engage in the conversation part.  If you are reading this post, then I have to say it is here primarily from my benefit.  If others learn for what I write this is a bonus, however, the main reason I blog is to capture my reflections on technology in education and collate these reflections in a format that is accessible to me.  I do know that many of the my students are not blogging for the collaborative aspect but more because it is part of the course.  They are encouraged to read their peers blogs but only a handful actually do this without  encouragement.  This is a real pity as by reading what others write we learn just like if we listen to what others say, rather than verbalise all the time, we will be able to adjust our thinking and views where appropriate.

When implementing instructional blogging, Clark & Mayer (2003) advocate three instructional techniques: receptive, directive and guided discovery (cited Glogoff 2005).  Of these three techniques I would say I employ the last two where I provided responses to student's posts and direct students to a specific focus to blog about.  Initially, I adopted the receptive technique where students were free to blog about the ICT input they had undertaken.  This technique was changed due to some students not blogging, some basically just saying what happened and some not extending their posts with links to what they were discussing.  It became clear that the art of blogging needs to be taught through the guided discovery technique and the facilitator needs to model effective blogging to students.  This model of learning mirrors the constructivist approach of cognitive scaffolding where students revisit their learning, build upon knowledge, reflect then delve deeper.  The student primary teacher's blogs are a prime example of this style of learning.  By looking through a student's blogging development, one can clearly see how the writer' craft of blogging has developed through constructive comments from tutors and peers and through the student's readings of other blogs.

This takes me back to my comment about why I blog, yes I did say that it is mainly for my own professional reflections, however, the social aspect associated with blogging is part of my culture where I learn from others and hopefully they learn from me too.  Blogging is not a one-to-many act like a church sermon, it is a one-to-many-to-one where we share and learn from one another.