I'm in my second year of teaching, 25 years old and still fresh and keen... I've been charged with creating a VLE for my school in Wembley, London. The Moodle system I've set up at www.vwhtc.net is looking good and beginning to be adopted by some staff, but I wanted to throw a few questions to the world:

If we get our students collaborating inside a VLE then it's a safe environment, limited access, censorable etc - all the things that senior management love. But I'm keen on getting students prepared for the big wide connected web 2.0 world. I've got a couple of classes posting on wordpress/blogger, which means I have no control over safety/personal details/cyber-horror-stalker-murder-hype... but the students have created some really insightful stuff, and made great comments on each others' work. I don't know if it's because stuff is world-viewable (in theory - I don't know who would read what we've done so far... it'd be great to start a project that would be useful to more than just our class/school).

What do you think? Closed safe censorable management-friendly, or open public potentially more scary but also more inspirational... My idealist gut instinct definitely leans towards open, but I need to keep the bosses happy and the young minds safe...

Tags: blog, censor, closed, collaboration, open, question, vle, worldwide

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I follow the school of thought that an increasing number of our students are going to be collaborating on the web socially, and because of this it is our job to teach them to use and post information on the vastness of the web responsibly.

I would keep it open. Bud argues this often on his blog, has more experience teaching and using open tools than I do, and he might have some good points you could offer your administration. His blog is at www.budtheteacher.com.
Thanks for replying. Bud makes some really great points, there's some good stuff on his wiki too. I think I'm going to end up with a bit of a hybrid solution - moodle has some excellent tools for setting collaborative assignments, but I definitely want students to be able to publish publically. I'm going to give google apps a try to see what we can do too.

If anyone's got some examples of good work/best practice I'd love to see.
Stalkers? You mean they can read what the kids write? what do you mean NO CONTROL? Are they on their own blogs? Give yourself editing power over the blog in WordPress or try Edublogs (my personal favorite). Also, sign them in for their accounts with "dummy" gmail accounts. You add "+studentname" to your gmail: mizmercer+malik@gmail.com and then ALL correspondence about the account is routed to you. Then, make them editors on the blog, but you are the administrator (this will work with WPMU on wordpress.com or edublogs.org). You will have more control. If the kids are writing on a single blog you set up, this is a no brainer. Don't give them admin control at all, and you should moderate all the comments. Consider blogmeister (although Mr. Warlick is hard to get a hold of) which gives them individual blogs but you have moderation power over the whole thing.. Moderating means you are keeping it safe. You read what they write, which is what you should be doing with most of their written work anyway. Censoring, hmm well if they are writing something inappropriate, I ask the kids (while the comment is in moderation) do you really want this up in public (one girl talked about wanting to hit someone. They usually get it, and ask for it to be erased.

There are lots of ways for you to get better control over your kids blogging without putting them in a closed Moodle.
I am an aspiring teacher from NYC.
I am still learning about teaching and technology in the classroom.
As far as your query is concerned, I think that open is better, despite how the senior school staff might think/want a closed, safe environment for the kids.
When they are first starting out, it is important to help them learn some dangers that may lie in the web from explicit content to scams, but I think we shouldn't doubt the intelligence of the young generation nowadays... they are more good with computers than us older college-grad folks! :)
The openness also is a great window for learning. The more they are able to share their thoughts with themselves and others (from around the world), the more learning will take place.
To that end, check out "Cognitive Flexibility Theory: Hypermedia for Complex Learning"… This article is available at http://www.msu.edu/%7Ecolli239/researchdawson.htm
Good luck with all your work! :)



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