This is my first post to Classroom 2.0, and I am amazed. I never made friends so fast! :)

I actually have a current question that I thought someone in this network might have an answer for. We have so many options today for what technology to use in our teaching that often it can be overwhelming (and there is always the sense that out there is something better). Miguel Guilin and I have been talking about the metaphor of the "Walled Garden." I'm not sure where he got the concept, but it is creating safe places where students can publish, interact, and exchange online mostly via Web 2.0 technologies that make this kind of activity easy and assessible to students. He is a technology specialist for San Antonio Independent School District and I am a teacher at San Antonio College, and we are discussing how to promote the sharing of writing and dialoguing between our two student populations.

I currently have two assignments with my Developmental English II students where I am asking them to publish to a web publication forum (in addition to our online Moodle learning environment), but I have not yet created this forum/site. Eventually, Miguel and I (I hope) will set up something like a Ning or ELGG site for our student exchange, but I was wondering in the short term for my current students if anyone had a suggestion for a blog or wiki tool that would work for my students.

I was just about to set up a single Blogger blog that we all could post to, but I wondered if there was a better option. In order to facilitate full participation I would probably set up accounts for all my students that are dummy accounts (i.e. not using their real names, probably just first names with our school initials like mark-sac or linda-sac).

Thanks for you help, and I look forward to being part of this community.


Tags: blogs, garden, publishing, walled

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My $.02, for what it is worth, is that going with Learner Blogs or a wiki might be a better option. If you would like to read more about my recommendations for blogs, and wikis, you might be interested in some posts I did on my blog:

Blog Hosting Services for Educators
Blog Software for Educators
Wikis for Educators
I really like wikis. They take a bit more work, but the ability to place content in a structure that is not date-oriented is really powerful for me. I have set up dozens of wikis at I sometimes think that my brain was pre-wired for wikis.... :)
I agree with Steve. We have had some experience with posting student writing assignments on wikispaces and getting peer feedback from a school we collaborate with in Montreal. The posting in the discussion area of each page has allowed for a fruitful exchange.
We are now considering having 9th grade students post research projects on wikispaces and get feedback from third year education students who are enrolled in in an ed tech class at their teachers college.
Good suggestions for using wikispaces. I suppose I could create pages for each student and then all they would have to do is edit their own page and paste in their essay.

I have one question about wikispaces. I've created one test site before, but not really played with it much. How does the discussion area of each page display? Does it should below the same page's main content (like a blog) or does it open in another window?

For this cross-group collaboration do you consider locking the pages or do you keep everything open for editing? Any problems with malicious edits?

Thanks for the suggestion!
Hi Lennie,
I did what you suggested with wikispaces - a page for each research team. See -

The discussion area opens in a seperate page - similar to a webforum.

You can lock the discussion area so only members of the space can write (new feature), but every member can write in every page's discussion area. As moderator you can delete each discussion entry.
I would second the wikispace idea, it would be a terrific place to safely provide a collaboration spot for students from both of the respective populations. It also has a very easy to use interface for creating wikipages and a decent area for discussions too.

Down the road I think (hope) Moodle can evolve into something that will allow such interaction between defined groups of students (it already allows for blogs and will allow commenting on blogs in a release that is expected sometime this summer for example).
Your comment about the dizzying array of tools is right on and that is one of the things I most like about utilizing Moodle - it's something we're already using and it has many of the tools already built in. Though it probably is still about 6 months away from being a really good fit for the project you mentioned, it could still be done pretty effectively. Anyway, just my 2cents :)
I've been collaborating with a teacher this year in another location where we've created a wiki of student work. My students created the wiki (pbwiki) and they also created their own pages. I simply provided guidelines for the basic content each topic/page and each group was supposed to add more details.

We did work in groups within our own schools, but it's my intention next time to mix the groups in the schools where some of my students are collaborating directly with hers. I think it's less of an "us and them" environment that could foster better work. OH, we also used 2 types of distance communications tools--iChat and Marratech software in order to make connections both social and academic.

For publishing writing in a more traditional sense, I like to see students using LuLu as a way to inexpensively get books published.



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