Communicating and Networking with Websites, Blogs, Wikis and More
Chapter 8
Aleida Slichter


Type of Communication Technology
Purpose
Author
Audience
Uses by Teachers
Instant Messaging (IM)
Communication between 2 or more people
Individual
Individual
Communicating with colleagues
Email
Messages over the internet
Individual
Individual or group
Communicating with students or other teachers
Discussion Board
Exchange of ideas about a topic
Group
Group
Electronic discussions of academic material
Teacher-made website
Collection of web pages
Individual
Group
Information for students and families and publishing student work
Blog
Online journal with comments by readers
Individual
Group
Personal reflections on teaching, sharing ideas with students, professional teaching portfolio
Wiki
Web page created by a collaborative group of writers
Group
Group
Group projects by students

Group projects among teachers



Communicating Electronically as a Teacher
Teacher and classroom websites, email, instant messaging, discussion boards, blogs and wikis are the major components of any communication system you might create as a teacher. Synchronous and asynchronous communications are forms of communication that you convey to your students.
Social Networking for Educators
Many people associate electronic information communication with social networking, a practice marked by controversy. Teachers can use educational networking in many productive ways such as:
· Teacher-to-teacher discussions about curriculum and instruction
· Book groups
· Connecting to national educational policy and reform organizations
· Exchanging information on educational research
· Group editing of projects and writing
Using Electronic Communications in Your Teaching
· Teaching interactively
It can extend the impact of your teaching. Teachers can post class notes, inquiry questions, homework assignments, writing ideas, web links, suggestions, experiments and other activities on a teacher or classroom website. Teaching online extends the ways that you can connect with your students.
· Sharing information
A teacher’s electronic communication system has the potential to open a 24/7 flow of information between the classroom and students’ families. Posting information online is an advantage. Everyone receives the information the same way, minimizing confusion.
· Building learning communities
An electronic communication system invites students to join a community of learners who are exploring topics of interest.
· Publishing student work
Can be an inviting way for students to publish and display work done in the classroom or at home. Students enjoy creating something that others are going to see.
· Energizing student writing
Opens multiple possibilities for students to write to you and to each other. Nearly all elementary school students spend 3 hours or less a week on writing. Nearly ¾ of K – 12 students never get a writing assignment from their social studies or history teacher.

Emailing and Instant Messaging
Email and IM are examples of communication technologies that have become so widespread. Adults use email and IM for workplace communication, business networking, online shopping, family talk and recreational pursuits. Young students are motivated by the ways that email and IM enable them to communicate using the forms of talk they have with their friends.
Strategies for Using Email and IM with Your Students
· Use password-protected student communication systems to Email and IM
· Use email and IM to teach about spelling
· Establish email connections to libraries, museums and universities
· Initiate email correspondence with elected officials and other public policy makers
· Hold online office hours
Websites and Blogs for Teachers and Students
· Teacher/classroom website – primarily devoted to your work as a teacher. May also serve as an online digital portfolio.
· Teacher blog – serves as an online journal where you post information and ideas related to your teaching. Blogs are multipurpose instructional tools.
Differences between Websites and Blogs
One major distinction is ease of site creation and management. Another difference is a blogger’s ability to interject a personal voice by sharing information and opinions in an informal style.
Creating Your Own Teacher Blog
- Student learning
- Student/family communications
- Professional networking
Three basic types of education-related blogs:
1. “Official face” blogs serve as formal information centers for schools
2. Single-purpose blogs address one subject area within a school, such as science or language arts.
3. Active learning blogs involve students and teachers in conversations around parts of the curriculum.
The basic components of a blog include the following features:
· Heading
· Pages
· Archives
· Categories
· Blogroll
· Meta
Design Decisions in Building a Teacher Blog
· Content posting
· Reader response
· Audience
· Authorship
Examples of Blog Design Decisions by Teachers
When creating a blog, you must decide among the various design possibilities for content posting, reader response, audience and authorship. One tool that will assist you greatly in creating your blog is a digital image scanner.
Analyzing Teacher-Made Websites and Blogs

Parts of the Site
Key Questions
Design/aesthetics
· Is the site clear to read and navigate?
· Does the structure of the site follow a logical pattern?
· Does the site draw people in?
· Are there pictures or other visuals?
· Does the site look complete or does it appear “thrown together?”
Information
· Does information on the site relate to a class and its educational content?
· Is the information easily available?
· Is there a variety of information?
Links
· Are there links to related sources and sites?
· Are there too many links without providing needed information for students?
Contact information
· Is there an easy way to contact the teacher?
Discussion options
· Are there ways to leave messages, ask questions, or discuss information and topics?
Up to date
· Is the information up to date in relation to class work?
· Does the page contain a reference stating “last updated on…”?
Class logistics
· Are assignments posted?
· Is a class syllabus or outline posted?
Overall impressions
· What do you like most about the site?
· What do you like least about the site?


Strategies for Incorporating Reader Response
· Focus on issues that have meaning and relevance to your students
· Stress the importance of active, thoughtful participation
· Emphasize rapid vs. delayed feedback
· Establish clear rules for online conduct
· Respond directly, but tactfully
· Develop an online reading response form for your students
Wikis as a Collaborative Learning Strategy
· WikiTravel, a worldwide travel guide
· Wictionary, a collaboratively developed dictionary
· Cookbook Wiki, a compendium of information about global cuisines
· WikiEd, a wiki for educators
· WikiHow, an effort to create the world’s largest how-to manual
· WikiIndex, a wiki featuring information about wikis
· Wikibooks, a site that hosts more than 25,000 jointly created open-content books
· Curriki, a site featuring online, open source curriculum materials
In schools, wikis allow students and teachers to do the following:
· Use technology in meaningful ways in their classroom
· Collaborate with peers and colleagues
· Synthesize and explain the content they are learning through written expression and different forms of multimedia expression
· Publish their writing and other creative or scientific work
· Receive feedback about their learning both inside and outside the classroom
Collaborative Learning Environments
Collaborative learning happens when students together work on different parts of a problem and discover key concepts and information for themselves. Wikis have the technological capacities to model and support student-to-student collaboration.
Building a Standards Wiki
The goal is to build a collaboratively developed and maintained collection of learning materials to use in teaching the state’s mandated history standards for high school students.
Creating a Wikitext
Wikis can be used in K – 12 classrooms whenever students or teachers are involved in collaborative and group projects. The idea of a wikitext is a promising new instructional model. A wikitext approach places students in new roles as content creators, not simply content receivers.
Strategies for Using Wikis with Your Students
· Group processes
· Nature of the wikitext
· Inappropriate or plagiarized material
· Grades for students
Focus Question #2
Children and adolescents are the largest users of email and instant messaging technologies. Many teachers use email as a way to communicate with students, families, and professional colleagues. Fewer teachers use instant messaging because the kind of informal language found in IM can be misunderstood or misused.
Key Terms
1. Asynchronous communications- information exchanges that have an interruption or time delay between responses
2. Blogs- short for weblog, an online journal that people can read and respond to electronically
3. Collaborative learning environments- settings where teachers and students work together to investigate curriculum topics and share academic information
4. Computer-mediated communication- information exchanges between people using computers, the internet, or wireless technologies
5. Digital image scanner- devices that can scan handwritten or paper text and images into a digital file
6. Educational networking- communication technologies that teachers and students can use to communicate electronically about educational issues and topics
7. Email- electronic messages sent between people using computers and the internet
8. Instant messaging- real time, typed text interactions between people using computers or mobile communication devices
9. Microblogging- a form of blogging that involves sending short text messages, photos, or audio clips to friends or professional colleagues, often done via a cell phone
10. Online discussions- an electronic forum where people discuss topics of interest
11. Social networking- using computers and the internet to share personal information online
12. Standards wiki- a wikispace focusing specifically on educational standards
13. Synchronous communications- information exchanges that happen in real time, as in a back-and-forth instant messaging conversation or discussion board.
14. Teacher or classroom websites- a website devoted to the learning activities of a school classroom
15. Textspeak- abbreviated language of letters and symbols used for quick communication in instant messaging and cell phone texting
16. Wikis- web pages that are created and maintained by multiple contributors
17. Wikitext- book or other collection of academic-related materials created by a group of wiki users