Today, Anne and I facilitated the first day of the New Internet Writing Tools Workshop and our group has been talking about blogging and RSS. At the beginning of the day, we talked about how blogs are different from static websites and began subscribing to RSS feeds left and right. By lunch, they were pros at Bloglines and in the afternoon they each began an Edublog Word Press site. Here is a link to what everyone has begun:
David makes an interesting point about blogs and assessment. After noting the old aphorism, “Not everything that is measurable is valuable and not everything that is valuable is measurable,” he adds this:
I think the things that are most educationally valuable about blogs and read/write web tools are the hardest to measure. Certainly, the creativity they encourage, the excitement they generate are almost impossible to reduce to a simple checklist.
Indeed, I think that another little saying that involves assessment might be in order here, too. “What gets measured gets treasured.” So, not only are the intangible aspects of new media composing probably the ones that are most valuable to teachers’ pedagogy and students’ learning, they are also the most difficult to justify in light of standardized tests and other measures of accountability.
Interestingly enough, in Michigan, our new high school content expectations are filled with references to multimedia and other digital projects. In a way, it is good that these digital creations are now “in the standards,” for that makes it easier to justify professional development and the like. Yet, the conceptual jump from teaching the personal narrative to the digital story — and back again — is still a somewhat difficult one to make both in terms of talking about the writing task itself and the teaching of it.
All the same, I agree with David’s main point. Some of the aspects about teaching writing with technology are the ones that are most difficult to explain and to evaluate. Yet, we need to begin to think about ways to do that. One place to begin looking for answers is Bernajean Porter’s “Evaluating Digital Projects” site.
I think that your idea to integrate Writely documents into your course handouts is great. I am trying to think about other ways to use Writely (in addition to everything that we came up with at TM06) for a workshop next week and I will be sure to reference your idea here.
Hey, like the new banner?
When I was talking with other Tech Liaisons a few weeks ago in Chico, Writely was one of the hot topics. With the potential for real-time collaboration, Writely finally delivers what many teachers using technology in their writing classrooms have been asking for over the past many years that Word couldnâ€™t seem to deliver (at least not in a user-friendly fashion). Along with real-time editing, it can save versions for quick comparisons, invite collaborators, be published easily to a blog or website, be tracked with RSS, and be saved online. No more lost disks (or, is it jump drives now?). I will write more on Writely later, but this is just a brief overview of some of its capabilities.
At any rate, I thought that I would try to make a decent banner and create the image as the link. I stole some CSS code from Rob, who assured me that I would figure this out on my own some day. Well, I did, with a little helpâ€¦
Sorry that itâ€™s been awhile since I visited your blog. I was looking for some CSS code and spent a few minutes catching up on reading, too.
So, what is your take on the MySpace debate? Is there room to still use MySpace in schools in a productive, ethical way? What are your impressions of the Google ads in MySpace?
I am trying to re-enter the blogosphere, so I look forward to catching up with your writing.
Thanks, David, for referencing my post about students using Flickr as a part of a digital photography/writing lesson. Your post has links to tons of other great ideas that I hope to explore.
By now, you have seen Stephen Cobert’s piece on Wikiality. If you haven’t, watch it before you read on.
In this response to the piece, Frank Ahrens of the Washington Post takes an interesting angle on how and why Wikipedia works:
But if Wikipedia is going to exist as an open-source resource and is going to resist single-peer review for its entries, then it needs to be transparent, as it has been in l’affaire Colbert. If Wikipedia’s DNA prevents it from hosting a single standard for truth — or truthiness — then its sources of information need to be evident and their tracks easily seen so readers can have as many facts as possible to determine their accuracy.
So, I have two concerns with this line of thinking. First, it assumes that Wikipedia is meant to be a definitive source on anything and I think that argument was over with the Nature piece comparing Britannica to Wikipedia. (To his credit, Ahrens makes this point clear — and takes a jab at himself ” at the end of the article and suggests that “Not, of course, that anyone would or should use Wikipedia — or really, anything else besides this column — as a single and authoritative source on any topic.”)
Second, and more importantly, I think that Cobert understands the inner workings of Wikipedia, the idea that it does, indeed, try to agree on facts. It is called the Neutral Point of View. And, despite take-offs like Colbert’s and The Onion’s, I think that many people who criticize Wikipedia — and similar projects — forget that it is not about the facts, per se, but one’s ability to contribute to a group’s understanding of the facts.
On The Media did an excellent piece on this issue about a year ago, right after the London bombings and when Wikipedia was the most accurate news source. It was, indeed, the power of the people to collaborate that made it a great site… Lest we lose site of that in our culture’s furor to constantly seek a single truth. Wikipedia has its own form of peer review and, for what Wikipedia is and wants to be, it works perfectly. And that is why Colbert’s idea of wikiality is so funny… because the idea itself just isn’t true.