Choosing to use a technology tool in a class can lead one down a difficult road. One important key is to figure out what tool to use for the job at hand. So do you use discussion groups, a digital movie project, a wiki, or a blog? To analogize, I wouldn’t want to use a belt sander to grout my bathroom tile, so it would be nice to better understand the nature of these different tools.
So how does one decide what tool or is the best for a specific application or need?
I’ve found a couple of helpful guides to better understand blogs and wikis in the context of teaching and active learning:
I’d like to share with you a few things that we are checking out in the Office of IT. These aren’t things we are committed to at this stage but if you have an opinion I’d like to hear it!
- Moodle, an open-source alternative to Blackboard or WebCT. Moodle provides a set of course tools that include wikis, online quizzes, and grade books.
- RSS Feed readers like Bloglines, Google Reader, and Mozilla Thunderbird. Check out the great video explaining the meaning of RSS.
- web meeting capability, using WebEx or Adobe Connect
- Confluence, a wiki-based tool for managing shared online workspaces.
An upcoming workshop requires a wiki for pre-workshop preparation. Since we don’t have a functional campus wiki engine we decided to use a free wiki service. These sites are referred to as Wiki Farms and there are a mind boggling variety of options that separate the major players. I chose Wiki Spaces for a start. They don’t use the same engine (MediaWiki) that is used by Wikipedia, but the Wiki Spaces engine is actually a bit easier. There is no need to learn a markup language since there is a toolbar with common tasks built in. Next I’ll see how collaboration works…I’ve invited other workshop facilitators to join in. I can already predict that we will have a little trouble organizing the information but hopefully we can resolve that problem swiftly and efficiently.