I am stumped as to how one can create this engagement or if it’s kismet. Doesn’t it depend on the participants and their dynamic? Isn’t it sort of like the luck of the draw? I don’t see that someone can ensure the engagement.
As far as content or a class that social networking may work…subjects like English or history because there would most likely be a lot to discuss. I am also thinking of an art class or music class because of the access to post or link to artwork or audio or video clips. I do not think social networking would be such a great idea for math because I am not that into the subject and therefore do not see much potential for social networking. Then again, “engagement trumps topic” so there is no guarantee for success based on content or subject!
How might educators use a wiki in class? What would be the purpose? What sort of content would it contain? What would be the expectations of students for contributions to the wiki?
There are many ways to use a wiki in an educational setting. It could be used in literature classes as a place for discussion or to find resources. A wiki could be used in health or physical education classes to show videos of exercises or have links to related websites and students could search the net for websites and post them. For math, students could share their short cut ideas or find different ways to solve problems. A cooking teacher could use a wiki for recipe posting and tips for cooking and of course the students would contribute also.
I think the purpose of a wiki in most educational uses would be for student collaboration/contribution and a place for them to find resources for their class. It would be great for students with disabilities to contribute and even for the shy kid. Students could take their time and even use technology gadgets for disabilities if needed.
The content is only limited by the imaginations of the users/creators. The expectations of students using the wiki could be contributing relevant information, using it appropriately, and following wiki (and internet) etiquette. The teacher would go over all of the specific expectations with the class because these would also differ from class to class. One teacher may want graphics or videos added while another may only want writing.
One blog I found interesting was this one: http://weblogg-ed.com/2008/as-parents-how-should-we-assess-schools/. This one caught my eye because we have more options for schools than just the one in your area. We can send our children to schools based on religion, Waldorf or Montessori theory, public, Multiple Intelligence or project based; the list goes on. Parents can help decide which school would be the best for their children education. As for our high schools in the area, we only have a few to choose from which disheartens me. As pointed out in some of the comments on the blog, parents become less involved with their children’s education as they grow older. I digress…back to the blog…The author’s questions following questions made me think: how are we advocating for our kids? How are we assessing schools? What should we demanding of schools in the 21st century?
Firstly, I have realized that I am not advocating for my high school student at all and I don’t even know where to begin. It is partly my child’s attitude that worries me but also the school. Seems she is mostly concerned with the social aspect of school and not learning at all. She doesn’t see how or why what she is being taught is pertinent to her life. While she needs to be motivated in her learning, I would really appreciate if the teachers or school could find a way to help her see meaning in what they are doing. As an educator myself, I am always trying to think of how to make things interesting and meaningful for the students and I guess I am expecting this from fellow educators as well. Still, I do not how to go about this.
Secondly, how are we assessing our schools? Are we looking for the A+ sign on the front of the building? Do we base it on test scores or awards won through sports? I used to base it on the A+. Then, as I visited and observed more schools, I saw that this didn’t show what goes on in the classroom and the environment. It wasn’t an actual representation of the school. Now, I look at the interaction between students and teachers. I look at the type of learning and activity that goes on in a classroom. I don’t want my children taught to the test. I want their experience in school to be like life and not separate. It should be authentic. This leads to the last question.
Finally, what should we demand of schools in the 21st century? I agree with the author: “I wish I would have heard more of those types of responses about the high school. I wish I would have heard stories of kids changing the world, of pushing through personal barriers, of creative expressions, of challenges met, of real work for real purposes. I wish it had been more than PSATs and AP tests.” I want to schools to address the whole child and to spark their minds and to help them find their place in the world. All I hear about are how the schools are cutting things out to teach to the tests because this is what the schools/teachers are being judged on. I was talking to one teacher about including the kinds of things I am learning about in EDU 255 into her class and she responded, “I do not have time to include things that aren’t going to be on The Tests.”