Fostering Writing and Collaboration with Google Docs

Teaching ChannelHigh school English teacher, Sarah Brown Wessling, shares strategies for promoting collaborative writing inside and outside of the classroom. Wessling highlights that such lessons also promote digital etiquette, provide opportunities for teachers to provide rich feedback, and provide teachers with insights into the individual student’s or the collaborative group’s writing process.

Google+ Communities

Google+I’m a big, big fan of Google+. It’s a very big component of my personal learning network (PLN). Here are some thoughts about about why I prefer Google+ over the other social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). I encourage everyone to take a look at Google+’s services and consider taking advantage of them.

Friend Me

Please feel free to friend me on Google+. Then browse through my Links and Other Profiles to make connections, collaborate, and share resources through other networks. As I frequently say, “Together we learn more.”

Google+ Communities

I’ve developed several Google+ Communities where we can interact and share resources around particular topics. I invite you to join and actively contribute to all of these groups in which you have an interest/expertise.

Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0 – Online Graduate Course

Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0I’m teaching a special topics seminar in the spring for graduate students (3 hours graduate credit). The topic will be Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0 Technologies. While we’ll consider common trends and issues and survey many of the popular tools and services related to Web 2.0, the heart of the course will be learning to effectively integrate Web 2.0 technologies and principles with teaching and learning. The focus will be on K-12 education but accommodations can be made for individuals from other fields (healthcare, corporate, military, higher education, etc.).

I’m very excited about this class. I taught the course in Summers 2008 and 2009 and we learned a lot and had a blast! You can view the ebook (authored by the graduate students) and other course materials that emerged from these sections to get an idea of what this class will be like.

In keeping with the principles of Web 2.0 I encourage the participation of everyone with an interest or expertise in this topic. You may contribute to the discussion and fun by using the following tag/keyword: idt7078. Be on the lookout for ways (Ustream, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Hangouts, etc.) to informally participate with us.

You can learn more about registration at the University of Memphis website.

Easily Connect with Students, Parents, and Colleagues Online

Posterous Groups is the simplest way to communicate with your students, colleagues, family and friends. Posterous Groups may be the next evolution in email communication.

Messages and attachments submitted to the group will be emailed to everyone in the group. Send any type of file to your group and Posterous will convert it to the most web-friendly format available. Photos will be sent to your group members inline, and if you send multiple photos, Posterous will automatically create a photo gallery for you. Submit a YouTube URL to the group and Posterous will grab the embed code and automatically embed it in your site. Email replies can include photos, videos or any other rich media and will be automatically shared with the rest of the group via email and stored on the group website.

A Few Benefits

Most everyone has access to email and understands how to send and received messages and attachments.

No account required. Anyone can participate in your group simply by emailing your group address while receiving email updates without ever having to visit your site.

Your group can be public or private.

Posterous Groups have been optimized for viewing on mobile devices. Your students and their parents can access your Posterous materials from their cell phones and iPads.

Multiple people can have full control of your group. That means you can share administrative rights to the website/group with others if you choose to do so.

Worth Noting

Best I can tell (and I certainly hope I’m wrong) it isn’t possible to have a Posterous website and a Posterous Group integrated together in the same domain. This is disappointing because it means that we can’t connect blog posts and web pages with the group features in one site. This can be worked around by setting up a Posterous site and a Posterous Group and linking them together, but it means having to administrate two different instances. This isn’t difficult for teachers comfortable with technology, but will likely be a bit overwhelming to those entertaining the idea of developing their first class web presence. In this case, I’d suggest they simply stick with setting up a website (in most instances).

Get Started

Get started by creating a group for your classes, clubs, groups, teams, or students’ parents. You can also start groups for your family, friends, church, and more.

Skype’s New Resource Specifically for Teachers

Skype in the Classroom is “a free directory that connects teachers and helps them use Skype to enrich students’ educational experience.” It allows you and your students to meet new people and connect with classes from around the world. Skype offers an immediate way to help students discover new cultures, languages and ideas, all without leaving the classroom. (Source)

“There are lots of teachers out there doing amazing things with Skype. But many of them say their biggest obstacle is finding other teachers and classes to connect with. [Skype is} developing a free online directory to make it easy for teachers to connect with other teachers and resources from around the world…Once you sign up with your Skype account and create a profile, you’ll be able to search for other teachers and classes by subject and region. You can also share inspiration and tips to help kids learn with Skype.” (Source)

Start by creating a profile, then explore the directory to find teachers and resources that match your interests. You can then share inspiring links, videos and tips with other teachers.? Feel free to connect with me, too.

Collaborative Diagrams, Concept Maps, Site Maps, and More

Thanks to Cindy Brock, I learned about an interesting web tool today. Cacoo‘s website states that it “is an online drawing tool that makes real-time collaboration a reality,” but I found this to be an incomplete description of its many capabilities.

Here are some of the features that I noticed while becoming familiar with Cacoo.

  • Multiple users editing the same diagram means real-time collaboration.
  • Cacoo allows you to share diagrams with everyone.
  • Shared diagrams can be edited by anyone.
  • Create wireframes, mind maps, network diagrams, site maps, and many other types of drawings using “stencils” that you drag and drop into place.
  • Cacoo can be pasted into a variety of web applications, such as Wiki and Blog.
  • Promotes collaboration through “diagrams” with flexibility, quickness, and beauty.
  • Currently available in 13 languages.

View the full list of features.

Connecting the Classroom and Outside World (Feedback Requested)

Educators, what are some strategies for connecting the classroom with the outside world?

NOTE: I’d like to share responses in an upcoming workshop/presentation and on my blog and wiki. You can submit your ideas using the form below, share your text/audio/video reply in the Comments section of this post or respond via Twitter, Plurk or on your blog using the tag #thruwalls. You can also view the compiled database of suggested strategies on my wiki, Learning Telecollaboratively.

Share this post using http://tr.im/104.

Conversation tag: #thruwalls

3 Questions with Drew Polly

INTERVIEW WITH
Drew Polly

Part of the ongoing 3 Questions series.

Drew Polly

Listen!