Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Things 14 & 15: Wikis and Voicethread

We are getting so close to the end! After this, there will only be two more "Things" to complete, and then we'll all be Web 2.0 Gurus. I continue to be amazed and excited by what people are doing with this stuff, and I also continue to encounter new tools that I would love to have included. One of these tools is so awesome and, I believe, so potentially fun to use with kids, that it's bumped a previously-scheduled "Thing" off the program! Voicethread will now be officially replacing Online Image Generators, which are cool but more of "just for fun" applications.

Thing 14: Wikis

A wiki is a collaborative website and authoring tool that allows users to easily add, remove and edit content. Wikipedia, the online open-community encyclopedia, is the largest and likely the most well known of these knowledge-sharing tools. Wikis have many benefits, are easy to use, and have many applications.

Some of the benefits of wikis:

  • Anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content.
  • Tracking tools allow you to easily keep up on what been changed and by whom.
  • Earlier versions of a page can be rolled back and viewed when needed.
  • Users do not need to know HTML in order to apply styles to text or add and edit content.
  • Multiple pages can be added to one wiki.

For an overview of wikis, watch this video:

Educational uses for wikis are great. Check out the sites below to see examples of wikis in use:

  • Learning the Wiki Way, by Jason Welker (This is a presentation about wikis in the classroom, given at an overseas educational conference. Click through the presentation, reading about this teacher's philosophy of using wikis.)
  • Welker's Wikinomics (This is the class wiki of the presenter above. Check out the different areas of his wiki.)
  • WorldIssues08 (Allison C. and I have been using this wiki for one of our Big6 research projects. Students are required to post at least 3 resources they've found helpful, so that students with the same topic can help each other out. They just click on the name of their "world issue", and it takes them to that issue's wiki page. It ends up being a great way for kids to share resources!)

To complete Thing 14:

  • Watch the video
  • Visit each of the links above and explore how wikis can be used in the classroom
  • Click on "Easy Edit" on the 17 Things to Chew On Wiki. You'll be prompted to "Join Now!", then you'll sign up for a Wetpaint account. As soon as you do that, you're in! No need for me to accept or invite you, as I set up my wiki so that anybody with a Wetpaint account can edit (although you can choose to only permit editing by people you approve).
  • Read the intro page of the wiki and then follow the directions about where/what to post.
  • Copy and paste the comment you wrote on the wiki into a new post on your blog. This will be your official "Thing 14" post.
  • ***You'll notice that there are lots of ads on the 17 Things wiki, but NONE on Allison's and my wiki, and none on Welker's Wikinomics. If you use Wikispaces (specifically Wikispaces for Educators), you can indicate that you are an educator, and they will remove the ads from your site for free. Wetpaint USED to be this way (which is why I used it to create the 17 Things wiki), but I just checked and they now make everyone (even teachers) pay $20/month to remove the ads. Yikes! So, I would suggest that you stick with Wikispaces for all of your wiki needs.

    Thing 15: Voicethread

  • Voicethread is my new favorite tool. It seems to me that the possibilities are endless, but I want to hear what you have to say! My husband is currently engaged in a big Voicethread project with his geography classes, and so I keep badgering him to send me examples of their work. Basically, Voicethread is a way to facilitate a discussion of images and video with a large number of people in a totally online environment. After creating a Voicethread account, you can create individual Voicethreads. For each Voicethread, you can upload images and/or video, comment on each page using text, audio or video, and then share the Voicethread with other users, who can then make their own comments using text, audio or video. It's amazing!

    Here is a link to a Voicethread created by the company itself: http://voicethread.com/share/409/ Watch it for an explanation and demo.

    Here is a link to a Voicethread created by an educator, to be shared with other educators. Check out how many people commented on it! http://voicethread.com/share/3352/

    And here is the link to the Voicethread I created, which contains images of the new building as well as a few student interviews re: their use of social networking and the Internet. You should make at least 5 comments on it, one of which should be audio or video. To leave an audio comment if you don't have a microphone (I don't have one here at school), click on the telephone icon after you click on "Comment", enter your phone # (cell, home, or school), and the program will call you within SECONDS! Wait for the greeting, record your message, then hang up. You've just left a comment on the Voicethread! To leave a video comment, you'll need a webcam, which I might try to do later from my home computer. Here is my Voicethread: http://voicethread.com/share/900480/

    FYI, you can request that your account be upgraded for free to an Educator Account, which lets you create an unlimited amount of Voicethreads and gives you a lot more storage space. I got mine upgraded within 24 hours of submitting the request.

    (Disclaimer: I paid $10 to get 60 minutes of "phone commenting" on my account. If you don't pay that, I think users might have to rely only on text, microphones or webcams).

    To complete Thing 15:

    • Watch the two sample Voicethreads
    • Set up a Voicethread account
    • Watch the Voicethread I created and make at least 5 comments, one of which should be audio or video (you'll need to have a VT account in order to comment)
    • Post about your experience. What do you think of Voicethread? Could it apply to you and your classes? Would you use it?

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