There are some thoughts -none of them new, I think- that I have repeated to myself while reading the articles of this week, which, by the way, have seemed to me to be really good. Teachers have to be trained. They are the key to effectively introduce Web 2.0 possibilities into classrooms. And it would be great if Colleges of Education which prepare teachers could teach with Web 2.0 tools and about Web 2.0 capabilities, so that new teachers could be literate in Learning Technologies and they feel confident when using these tools.
In my case, I can say that with each week that is passing by, I understand more and more what I am doing when writing a new blog entry like this.
In regard with the Hsu et al. chapter, I would sum up it with an “I&C” – Information and Collaboration. The first part is what Internet became in its earlier stage. Collaboration is what Web Applications in the cloud add.
Of all these Web 2.0 Tools, I know 3: Wiki, Collaborative Docs and Blogging. This is the first time in my life I am using a blog seriously, so let’s go with the others. Here is my personal experience using them:
- For many years ago, I have worked in classroom with a Moodle platform. This Web Application provides several tools, like wikis, assignments, quizzes, forums, etc. Last year I observed that many students didn’t take good notes, so things that they could understand in classroom became forgotten. Then I decided to publish and elaborate documentation during the class using wiki. Before ending each class, I updated the wiki pasting the notes, examples, exercises, etc. that we had been working with the projector during the class.
- At the end of the scholar year, I had to dedicate myself to explain some topics for some students that had got “a bit” lost. But I also had other students that have finished their instruction. These last ones were more autonomous, so I proposed them to work in pairs in a more or less new topic called NoSQL Databases. Each team had to investigate one particular software that they chose (there are more than 100 databases of that kind). They had to prepare a wiki with a Quick Start Guide for their peers and make a 20 minutes exposition. I think that it was a success because they were enthusiastic with their research and publication.
- This year I teach in a course about installing and configuring servers. It is mainly about “how-to”. Students’ desks are disposed in 6 groups of three, so I have configured a wiki for groups. Each group has a letter of the army alphabet: Alfa, Bravo, Charlie… (like in the movies, you know). And each team has its own wiki, where only members can enter and edit. I have told them that I am going to use this task to evaluate them, and probably the exam will be practical, and they will have access to their wikis -I don’t mind at all. One thing they like is posting screenshots that they have taken while installing, configuring, etc.
One limitation I have experienced with wikis is that only one can edit at the same time. I think that it would be great if wikis could allow simultaneous editing, as collaborative document editors do (e.g. Google Docs).
I have used Google Docs a great deal, but it hasn’t been in classroom, it has been carrying out tasks in which more than one teacher was involved. This is a good solution for collaborative simultaneous editing, although I also like the way wikis structure information in different pages.
On the other side, sometimes it has not been so easy. As I see, the difference between the successful experiences and the unsuccessful ones lies on having or not students engaged and excited with the activity.
Reflecting on these experiences, I think that they have exercised some aspects mentioned in Hsu et al. chapter:
- As they used wiki as a notebook, they constructed their knowledge and organized it.
- As they used a wiki configured for groups, they constructed collaboratively.
- Having to do a presentation and a quick start guide for others than themselves, I think that they added reflection to their work, trying to evaluate it.
One last point that I find interesting about Moodle, is related to quizzes. I tried to provide enough questions for their practicing several times. Questions were all automatically corrected, so that students had immediate score. Questions were also randomly chosen, thus the quiz was more or less different at each attempt. This resulted to be a useful self-training and self-assessment tool. What is more, I got the statistics for every question. One thing that students liked to do was viewing with the projector which questions had higher percentage of incorrect answers, and correct them. I think that here the goal consists on having statistics about class knowledge, and so you can adapt the following classes.
In regard with the technologies listed in the Horizon report, I think that I would like to work in a mixture of three points: online games that get adapted to each individual using learning analytics and give the possibility of collaboration between matched classrooms. Although it is not easy at all, I think that they can be seen as trends or targets when planning learning activities. I mean, you can try to make an activity with a class of other country. You can try to elaborate games, even team games. And you can try to measure individual learning and adapt activities.