Friday, 27 September 2013

Module 2 (web2.0 online course)

Well without further delay, here is the second post for the web2.0 online course. I had completed both of these modules back in July, just after signing up for the web2.0 online course, but had not been able to blog them without our school allowing us to use most of the associated google functions.

In this module, the focus was on setting up this blog, finding other blogs and then familiarising oneself with twitter. I am glad that I was finally able to set up this blog so that I can continue on with the course. I have been a long time reader of various blogs, but my experience with either running one myself, or participating actively in many, is limited.

During the Dip. Ed. course at Monash, I had the chance to use wikispaces to set up a wiki for use in the biology classroom. I have continued using wikispaces in my teaching, as part of my chemistry courses in senior school, and have mixed feelings about it. Whilst I particularly enjoy curating the contents of a subject course online, and providing students with all the relevant documents, I have found that students find wikispaces frustrating to use. Part of this is probably because they do not use it in all classes, part of it is because it is another password/login combination to remember, part of it is because the number of times the school server has blocked students from accessing it... Imagine if IT came into my classroom and stop students from receiving a hard copy of the notes, or feedback. Uproar would ensue. But not so with the restriction of digital resources. I just get more grey hair!

In using wikispaces with my students I had a severalfold purpose. Firstly was to provide a common place for all their learning resources. Secondly was to allow communication between the class members outside of the classroom. Thirdly was to increase reflective learning practices by my students, and allow them to demonstrate their own learning to others. I really wanted this third purpose to take off, and empower my students through seeing the common mistakes they were making, that others were making, and what successful students were doing. Sadly, I found this generally did not take off. There was always students who couldn't/didn't/wouldn't access the page, and if they did so would not write to any prompt there. I am still reflecting on how to set up a page more successfully to allow some of these good learning behaviours to develop.

Here is an example of the wikispace working somewhat effectively (and providing me with some great feedback!)
In terms of twitter, I have found it to be a great networking tool, but also it is an echo chamber and I find that frustrating. I also find the endless slogans and chanting to take away from the tone of some conversations/debates that I would like to be part of. For me the verdict is still out, I will continue to use it, but it does not supplant actual networking and professional engagement (nor should it!).