Monday, 10 August 2009

Wikis, Student Work & Diigo

I am a fan of the wiki and use Wikispaces with a variety of classes and in a variety of ways. Basically I began using it as a site where students can access the information they need on a particular topic. A place to put summaries and tasks they needed to complete. Now I am in the process of trying to take it to the next level and harness more of the wiki's potential by creating a place where students can work together to create the information that they need as well as present their own creations and digital portfolios. Somewhere to share, to pool knowledge and to discuss issues.

Currently I use wikis in different ways for different year groups.

  • For Year 7 it is more like an online supplement to the textbook. One day I aim to make it the textbook. This wiki is visible to anyone but can only be edited by members.
  • For Yr8 it is as above but in more detail and also a place to share some student work, uploaded by the teacher. As for Year 7, this wiki is visible to anyone but can only be edited by members of the wiki.
  • For Yr9 I am trying to turn it into a reference text as well as a place for students to work together on projects, upload their own creations and learn from each other; bringing all the work we do into one central location. At the moment this wiki is a private wiki; it can only be seen or edited by members of the wiki.
The Year 9 'experiment' began with their ICT assessment task - to create their own wiki page on the class wiki and describe their likes, dislikes and abilities in Japanese. The ICT component of the task was simply aimed at enabling them to learn how to navigate around the wiki, edit pages and become familiar with the different features of the wiki.

The results were quite impressive. Some students created simple but effective pages using the target language, others were able to create visually impressive pages that both used the target language and embedded a variety of media to enhance it.

The next step was to provide feedback on the students' pages. This is when our Diigo class group became the tool of choice. With a Diigo Educator account, I have been able to create a class group for my Year 9 class. The class group is closed but we share bookmarks and there is a Group Forum to discuss sites and Japan related topics. This private Diigo Group could be the key to effective feedback for learning as it allows me to highlight text and add comments on web pages (including the students' wiki pages). These comments are only visible to those in the class group. Students can see the comments on their own page and on those of others in the class. They have simple but effective feedback and (if they wish) can see if others in the class are making similar mistakes.

My apologies for the quality of the screenshot here but hopefully you get the idea. I have posted a sticky note on the students work, providing them with a little feedback. The sticky note becomes visible when you are logged in to Diigo and place your cursor over the highlighted text. Students can then add to a comment to my sticky note if they need to ask a question or seek clarification. Too easy!

So, for all the teachers out there - get yourself a Diigo Educator Account.

If you're still not convinced that wikis can work for you, watch the clip below and simply substitute the word 'boogie' for 'wiki'. Enjoy!

It needs to be acknowledged that I was able to work on this unit of work and others for our language department thanks to funding provided by the Australian Government through the Languages Program.

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