I have been trying out various 2.0 and other computer tech tools in my 3rd and 4th grade classes for several years and will be using a class blog and wikispace this coming year. I had previously done these types of interactive applications on a local computer basis using just word processing software. Now that we have "reliable" internet access on site, we are ready to move up to the web-based versions. I've also used Photostory for digital storytelling/reports. Now I'd like to try Voicethread too.

This is the first year I'll officially be serving 1/2 time as a site technology integration mentor. No one else is doing this in my district so I'm hoping to get a few ideas from the many of you who much more experience. Many colleagues would like to begin using web based tools with elementary students and want to know where to start. I started with non web-based applications out of necessity, but I don't think is necessary now for others.

I have two main questions and would greatly appreciate your feedback.

1) For those who are ready to start, where do you think they should begin? Wiki? Blog? Digital storytelling? Other???

2) Do you have favorite 2.0 applications that are fairly easy for a beginner with basic computer skills to use?


Tags: blogging, elementary, getting_started, pd, wikis

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If you want to see some example of classroom blogs go to http://supportblogging.com/Links+to+School+Bloggers and scroll half down to the list of Classroom blogs.

I personally like to start with wikis because students have the opportunity to participate and post but don't have the resonsibility to keep up with a blog. Once the students get used to posting on a wiki you can then introduce personal blogs.

My favorite Web 2.0 tools are listed at: http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/colettecassinelli.html
One problem that I have with things like podcasting, blogging and wikis is that they are very major commitments. What are you going to blog about? How often are you going to blog? etc.

I might suggest encouraging teachers to use a Web 2.0 widget that doesn't require such a major commitment, to begin with. For example, I love Google Sketch Up. It allows people to design 3d images and it is incredibly easy. My suggestion is that it would be easier for students than for adults as it is very intuitive. Teachers might ask students to select one building discussed in a book and draw an image of it, etc.
You have some great ideas, and the responses of the other Classroom2.0 members are fantastic. I would ditto the use of del.icio.us to help the teachers collaborate. I believe that any technology must be effective, easy to use, and not get in the way of the work you want to accomplish. It seems to me that del.icio.us meets those criteria.

If you decide to use del.icio.us, I would like to suggest that eventually each teacher may want to make one login name for school and one for home or personal use. This is very easy to do because of the way del.icio.us works.

There are several other great reasons to use this web based system:
1. This is not just for bookmarking. People can write a blurb about the webpage, Some teachers will remember this as the hotlist.

2. You have a network as large as ALL of del.icio.us, or as small as you want. For instance, when you tag some site on del.icio.us, you can see the comments of others.
a) If you want, you can follow that person.'s tags If you both have looked at each others hotlists, bookmarks, tagged sites, whatever you want to call them....then you make a MUTUAL connection....these people are your fans and you are their fan.
b) this networking capability will allow teachers to send tags to their colleagues or their own personal login through their fan list without having to log in and out under different names. IT SAVES TIME and it's easy to do. You just click on the names that are listed in your network, and the tag is sent to every other person or login you marked.

3. Any tag can be marked NOT SHARED, then no one but you can see it.

4. Del.icio.us is very straightforward and has been around for quite some time, so there are more resources to collect than with other sites of its category.

5. You can easily install addons with small icons for del.icio.us on both Firefox and IE7.

6. One of the very best functions of del.icio.us is the ability to receive tags from anyone in your network. Even though I may not tag every item that is sent to me, I appreciate the conviviality and collaborative context of this function. I think it is really cool, to open your del.icio.us page and see that someone has sent you some tags. **This could really be of practical benefit to you as the tech integration mentor....you can send tags to the teachers in your collaborative group.

While I use several similar software addons like del.icio.us, I believe it meets your criteria for ease of introduction, clean visual space that prevents confusion, and flexibilty for use among your group of teachers. I believe it is the best addon environment where beginners and experienced, first adopters can collaborate.

Lots of good comments about many great tools. I'd also direct your colleagues to this site. Well done by a British educator and some very useful screencasts with ABC step by step directions and tips for using many applications. Take a look.

Spreading the wealth......I'm experimenting with moodle and it is a long learning curve but hopefully a necessary and fulfilling one....

Very cool...thanks!
I use www.learningelectric.com for videos for regular software applications. You might find some you could use there as well.

David, you may already know about PacktPub. (I have no affiliation with them other than I love their books.)

They have published 3 excellent Moodle books. I like to have a print reference on my desk when trying to figure things out. The one on Moodle Administration is particularly good if you manage your own installation.

I agree that it takes a while to get up to speed but once you get used to the way things are done, editing, adding resources or activities, etc. it begins to make sense, and its apparent that it is a well thought out piece of software.
"If you decide to use del.icio.us, I would like to suggest that eventually each teacher may want to make one login name for school and one for home or personal use. This is very easy to do because of the way del.icio.us works.
I did the same thing and had no problem with that. I did find that, as I was using browser buttons, to add pages to del.icio.us, I was often changing between the two accounts (by logging out and logging in as the other account). The I found an easier way, I could stay logged in on my personal acccount and anything I wanted to tag for work use I could tag for that account. The tag is simply 'for:myotheraccount;'.

I am a full time tech coach. I started very slowly with my folks, because they haven't yet causght the vision for 21st century learning and constructivist pedagogy. You may need to take that int account with your teachers. I looked to Chris Moersch and his research on Levels of Technology Implementation to assess the needs and readiness of my folks. We started with Kidspiration/Inspiration (you could try http://www.gliffy.com/) my folks needed to see that we weren't doing bells and whistles for the sake of bells and whistles. I found I was lightyears ahead of them instructionally with this stuff.

Great resources. I think they both will be very helpful. Thanks Ruth! I am lucky enough to work with a staff that, for the most part, aren't afraid of technology. That is still very different from being ready to effectively integrate tech into classroom instruction. Backing up integration ideas with the reasons why they are effective and efficient is key. It may a slow going, but it is better than not moving at all.
Blogging was the first tool that I chose to use with my fourth grade students. I set them up with Gaggle email accounts and then set them up as authors on blog in Blogger. The layout is really simplistic and easy for students that might not have a strong background in word processing. My students are using the blog as a writing outlet in that they post works in progress or other compositions for feedback. I attached a Cluster Map so that they could see where their readers were and they have just flown with it. Even my students that don't have computer access are heading to the library or a friend's house to post. Our blog site is http://talentedtexans.blogspot.com Check it out if you get a chance and let them know where you are. That's half the fun!
I struggled with the same issue, then I remembered I how I got sucked into all this myself, and it was the daily reading from rss start pages. But I have had trouble getting newbies with started with rss so I created the EdVibes Webpulse at http://edvibes.com/webpulse

EdVibes providesa free web-based solutions and tracking the pulse of current trends in education and the new read write web. It's the first Free Live Public Education Social Start Page. In the right sidebar you will see a chat here button and a live visitor count and map. If you notice that there are others online when you are click on that chat here button and a pop up chat window will appear (no downloads or registration required).



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