Anyone having trouble gaining classroom access to blogs, wikis, Ning, other Web 2.0 tools? I'm looking for practical solutions. If you've had to wrestle with this issue, I'm curious to learn how you've addressed it (or found a practical workaround). What helps you get the toolkit unlocked?

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We do not rely on "free" hosted services. We install free open source versions of these on a linux server. For blogs, we use WordPressMU, MediaWiki drives our wikis, and we plan on using the social platform Elgg.

Hopefully, I can get our IT person to set up an intranet as well, but I'm not going to hold my breath. That would probably be set up on linux as well.
Yeah--we have that of course. I'm not allowed to touch anything on the school's internal network as that belongs to our regional BOCES. I only have access to our rented external resources.

I'll talk to our tech person on Tuesday and get back to you if she needs some information.


NERIC. We are northwest of Albany.
What is everyone so afraid of? Shouldn't we be teaching students to manage these sites that they access at home anyway? My school blocks very few sites, thank heavens. To unblock a site, all a teacher has to do is to ask the ed tech folks to do so and they rely on professionalism of the teacher to be enough.
We are very fortunate that our Tech Director listens to our educational use of a site and will unblock it after he checks it out. We have most things open.
Do you mind telling us where you are located? I"m in Vermont and wonder if our culture allows for more openness? I'm about to begin a project with 10th grade students using PBwiki with uploads from all sorts of places, and wonder how many schools might block our ability to collaborate?
Thanks, everyone, for joining this discussion. I'll be curious to hear how others answer your question, Lauren. Collaboration takes practice. If kids are blocked from using tools that facilitate collaborating, how will they learn this important skill? And indigo196, do your district-hosted solutions allow for collaboration outside the district (i.e., global projects)?
I've sent part of your earlier response to my IT techie guys. Your first two points make me recognize my ignorance, but that's what this group helps us to overcome, right? I wonder if you (and anyone else) can elaborate on the concerns you have about PBwiki and opening it up to the world?
In my district we have SharePoint as mentioned earlier. It has taken us two years and an upgrade but we will be able to collaborate using our SharePoint sites with anyone in the world. The IT department is created a place where people can request to be authenticated users. Our teachers also have permission to allow anonymous editing. We are working hard to educate not only our IT staff but also teachers because if something happens I am afraid that our Board and parents will want to shut the entire use of web tools down.
I am in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School district in PA. Sometimes our District Tech directors are so busy with so many other things, they don't have time to check out all of these tools. Maybe showing them how the collaboration would take place would be helpful. If you need some samples, look for Vicki Davis "Flat Classroom" project and show that finished project. It would give a good example.
Consideration of using Web 2.0 tools goes beyond what can get through the school filter. It needs to comply with the district's acceptable use, privacy, and web publishing policies. Chances are many districts do not have policies in place that address Web 2.0 tools. It would be wise to examine these policies and work toward updating them before deploying solutions whether externally hosted or self deployed.

Another consideration are the students' parents. I think they must sign off on whatever you are doing. Failure to do so can lead to all kinds of problems.

My work with my students evolved to the point where we may have gotten ahead of ourselves in terms of formal policy. My parents were fine with what I did with their children, in fact they were enthused. The BOE has been fine too as I have discussed what we have been doing with them. My superintendent, who has just left, gave me the go ahead on anything I have done. I have been given wide berth as a teacher because I administer a server out there on the Internet myself. Nonetheless, I am working with others on the tech committee to formulate a formal policy. I have written a blog entry about my thoughts on these matter and will be writing more in the near very future.
I am in the midst of composing a letter to parents explaining the potential joys and perils of life in Web 2.0. As high school students they will be navigating this stuff on their own if we don't help them, but we will require parental permission before signing them up on the wiki. Do you have a sample letter? My district tech team will be wrestling with a new AUP/web policies this fall. Again, any samples will be appreciated. Exciting times!



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