“Idea Soup” – Learning about Wikis

“]graphic from google image search for 'ideas.' From a cover of the New York Times magazine.]

graphic from google image search for 'ideas.' From a cover of the New York Times magazine.

Having never worked with a wiki, other than referencing from Wikipedia, I wanted to find out what they were and how they operated.  I began by watching by Wiki’s in Plain English by Common Craft  (Their videos are wonderful at explaining all sorts of things associated with technology).   This video provided instruction on the wiki, directed me to register as wikispaces and helped inspire an idea for my first wiki.

For my first trial at a wiki, I decided that I would invite my family members to create a packing list for our upcoming trip to Mexico.  After registering at Wikispaces, I invited my sister who lives in Michigan and my brother who works in another part of the United States to collaborate and form a packing list of the  items we need for the trip.  This is what resulted:


I know it is fairly basic but now I understand how they work.  The benefit of using a wiki in this situation is that it allowed for a collaboration of ideas from people in different locations.  It avoided long phone conversations or dozens of emails because as an idea occurred to someone, it could simply be added to the wiki for everyone to review at their leisure.   It also was fun as my brother added some humorous comments and even video to help spark the excitement for the trip.

In the classroom, the wiki tool has potential for use in many learning situations that involve brainstorming , collaboration and organization over a period of time by a multitude of people.

Chapter 8 – Web-based Learning

Chapter 8 in Roblyer and Doering (2010, p. 242)  discusses three different types of web-based learning as categorized by Harris (1998, 2002);  these are interpersonal exchanges, information collection and analysis and problem solving.   Many different examples of these are well described in the text.  One model that I had not read as much in previous chapters was that of Social Action Projects (p. 243).  I was really pleased to see this being discussed as not only are they are an excellent way of integrating technology, but they also help develop in students – digital and global citizenship.  I recently created a WebQuest with the underlying goal being to teach Social Activism.  Although, I would like to continue to develop it so that there is more critical reflection involved, the project associated with the WebQuest can lead to many different learning opportunities over the course of a year.  I discovered that many charitable organisations have wonderful websites and resources.  I was able to included quite an extensive list of resources for students to work with.   The rubrics listed in chapter 8 for evaluating a website or WebQuest are also a nice resource to have on hand.


Roblyer M. D. & Doering, A. H. (2010) Integrating educational technology into teaching (5th ed.)  Toronto: Ally & Bacon.

Make that Another Round of Facebook Please

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got… Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…”


Remember that infamous opening to Cheers ?  The strange thing is that now we no longer seek this solace from our local pubs but instead by logging onto our favourite social networking site to catch up with the latest news amongst our friends and seek affirmation for our lives.  

For years I was hesitant about joining the facebook phenomenon, fearful of its invasion to my privacy and afraid for my personal information to be “out there” for anyone to get a hold of.  Working as a Guidance Counselor, I encountered so many scary situations involving my students and the Internet.  Some of the situations were shocking and it seemed urgent to me to design several Internet Safety Units for the various grade levels in my school.  I was consistently counseling students and parents on how to keep their information private and their identity safe, thus becoming more aware of the potential dangers.  

The problem is that if you are not apart of the new technologies it becomes increasingly harder to understand how these technologies work, how to teach students about them and how to teach them safety.  I finally decided to “take my head out of the sand” and joined Facebook for the first time this past winter.  I soon realized how great it was to be connected to so many people I have known – all at the same time, all in the same place.  I loved how I could post something on my page and get immediate feedback from all over the world.  Thus- the excitement of Web 2.0!  Yet, I was still very wary and set up many privacy controls.  It got me thinking about the huge dilemma behind these new technologies.  I actually created a Web Dilemma to use with my students for one of the courses I was taking – Facebook Web Dilemma   (Feel free to use this with your students if you like).

Over the last few months and especially in setting up this Blog, I have come to realize that in order to be a part of these exciting tools, we also have to be willing to share of ourselves.  I have come to realize that the biggest difference between journal writing and Blogging is that “Blogging” has an open readership without condition.  I can get immediate feedback on my thoughts, good or bad, rather than just safely reflecting unto myself.  Now this might have been obvious to those who have had experience with Blogging but since this is all new to me, it took me awhile to realize this. 

 Now, if only I can get someone to read my Blog.  I have spent the last week reading many articles on how to gain a Blog readership:  Here’s My Five Top Tips For Building Your Blog’s Readership –What Are Yours?  Some of the suggestions for gaining Blog readership seem to be to join Twitter, subscribe and comment on other people’s Blogs, keep my Blogs regular and interesting and actively linked.  It seems that the saying fits “What you put in, is what you’ll get out”.  My new goal is to get others to read my Blog.  If you have any other suggestions let me know….  



(Walker, D., 2007,  http://weblogcartoon.com)