Lynne d Johnson



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06.09.07 07:56 PM

Using Wikis and Social Networks To Teach

This summer I'm teaching a course called Self-Assessment Through Writing and Technology at the Metropolitan College of New York and I thought it was a perfect course for using to a wiki or social network. I need a place where the students can track all of the work they've been doing in the classroom and at home. They're taking a lot of self-assessment tests on personality, career, learning style, etc. and writing about it. The first part of the course is about them writing about what they're learning about themselves -- and mainly about them learning about themselves.

Now we're moving more into a full writing phase and I want to work on group essays and other forms of collaboration and even have the ability to do online group chats. In this phase their going to learn more about research and research tools, and a lot about writing techniques and writing tools.

After we go through a complete writing and discussion phase, we'll get into some multimedia -- using images online, as well as video and audio.

So I've been trying to figure out whether I use both a wiki and a social network. I've been looking at various hosted wiki options and really can't figure out which one best fulfills my needs or the needs of the classroom.

Down the line, I wanted to teach the students how to create simple web pages, but realized that time could better be spent with them working on a social network. I've looked at both Vox and Ning as options and had even considered hosting a joomla or phpnuke or even a drupal installation myself.

I'm just wondering if there's anyone out there who's used similar tools in a classroom setting. What tools have you found to be best? As much as I want my students to learn about technology, I want them writing a lot. So I need to decide on the proper tools like yesterday. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate.

It just really needs to be easy and simple to use for my students. It has to enable them to collaborate. Also to learn a little bit about creating their own web space, but without them having to necessarily learn HTML and any real tech skills. Because I want to be able to teach them about audio and video, I don't want to spend a lot of time on photoshop and dreamweaver. I want everything to be simple for them so that they spend most of their time making their own space on whatever application we use a great final project.


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