Welcome Blendspace to the Wikispaces team

blendspace-email-retinaWe’ve had the pleasure of knowing the team behind a great lesson building platform called Blendspace for a while now. They are super talented people who, a couple of years ago, decided to commit themselves to building products that would make a difference in the lives of teachers. And they’ve done a great job.

For those of you who haven’t used it, Blendspace is a beautiful and powerful tool for creating digital lessons that are tailored to students’ needs. The Blendspace team’s key insight was that teachers want to pull together different types of resources from different sources and turn them into lessons they can easily give to their students. And Blendspace has been used by half a million teachers and students worldwide so they’ve learned an enormous amount about how to help teachers do just that.

Of course passion for helping teachers and the development of great products by listening to those teachers are the two foundations of what we do at Wikispaces. In addition to that cultural fit, there’s a great product fit. We are currently working on making it easy to deploy the enormous number of resources TES teachers have shared with each other on the TES Resources platform. It is clear to us that the ability to use those resources in building fully formed lessons is going to be a super important part of what we want to build for teachers.

And so we decided that we wanted the Blendspace team to become part of the Wikispaces team and help us deliver on that vision. Thankfully they felt the same way and we’re thrilled to announce that Blendspace is now part of Wikispaces, and the broader TES Global family.

Blendspace, the product, will continue to operate and we have some great surprises for the passionate Blendspace users that you can read about on the Blendspace blog.

So leave a comment below to say hi to the Blendspace team, try out Blendspace for yourself, and if you’re interested in giving us feedback on what we’re working on together, drop us a note.

Posted in Classroom, Company, Wikispaces | Leave a comment

#edtechchat on Mondays with Susan Bearden

Susan BeardenSusan M. Bearden is the Director of Information Technology at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, FL. As a technology leader, she strives to leverage technology to improve educational and business outcomes and provide teachers and students with the support, tools and training needed to help them become responsible digital citizens and 21st century learners. She has presented at a number of national and state conferences including ISTE, FETC, CoSN, and the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS). A frequent guest blogger, she is a contributing author to the Huffington Post and was ranked #9 on their list of “The 50 Most Social CIOs on Twitter.” Bearden co-founded and moderates #edtechchat and is a board member of Get Social Brevard. Connect with her on Twitter @s_bearden and @HTEATech or at www.susanmbearden.com

Wikispaces teachers are always exploring how to use technology in innovate new ways.When we find gems in the community like Susan Bearden, we are eager to share with you all how they are helping teachers find great learning opportunities! Susan is the co-moderator of the weekly #edtechchat that happens on Twitter every Monday evening at 8pm Eastern time.

#edtechchat

She joined us recently to share how #edtechchat was started, and how she uses an archive wiki to keep all of the great content in one place.

#edtechchat started in April 2013 from a need for an educational-technology specific Twitter chat. If you’ve never joined a Twitter chat experience, you can participate in several ways. For starters, you can view the stream during the week by searching #edtechchat and viewing and interacting with the contributions. You can also share a link or resource that is related to educational technology or the weekly topic. Finally, you can join the live conversation for the hour on Monday evenings 8pm Eastern time.

If none of these options work for you, Susan has made it very simple to view all of the great resources being shared weekly by hosting the edtechchat wiki! Simply head to edtechchat.wikispaces.com to view uploaded .pdf archives of each chat and learn about the bios of the founders.

#edtechchat

Get your archives each week off of the wiki page.

Susan and the moderator team are located all over the United States wikis help them to collaborate and easily clearly share responsibilities. Wikispaces was the first choice to host the archives because it’s easy to use, easy to maintain, and so helpful to distribute access to editing for an entire team!

Want to Try It?

If you have resources that need to be archived often, try out Susan’s simple method of creating a wiki, creating an archive page, adding a Table and uploading documents and resources for folks to quickly get. Make it collaborative by inviting several of your colleagues as Organizers of the wiki under the Members area. Make a new archive wiki now!

Archives

And if you are new to Twitter and #chats, be sure to check out Susan’s TweechMe app developed especially for teachers getting involved in Twitter and developing their personal learning network. Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions, and see you on Monday nights, all!

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How to Succeed at the EIA EdVentures Conference

The good people at the Education Industry Association invited us to give a talk based on our How to Succeed In Ed-Tech article at their EdVentures conference in Newport Beach last week.

It was a real pleasure to be able to engage with a group of Ed-Tech entrepreneurs, some of whom were just starting out, to share our history and think about how we can all do a better job building solutions that help teachers and students.

I met some really passionate new entrepreneurs working on exactly these questions and came away inspired by the energy they are bringing to their ventures.

My takeaway after the session was that there is of course no one right answer to any of the hard questions and that the key part of finding your own success is knowing who you are and what you want.

The conversation about how to build Ed-Tech companies we can be proud needs to be ongoing. Thanks to the EIA for making it a central part of their conference this year.

Posted in Business, Wikispaces | Leave a comment

Get Your Class in Your Wiki Painlessly: New Join Code for Your Students

You asked, and we listened! Announcing the arrival of one of the most requested features of all time, this blog post explains how to use a Join Code to make joining a wiki easier for students.

Try it out and let us know what you think!  Step by step directions below.

Join Meme

Here’s how to use a Join Code. 

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Go to Members at the top right of your page. Then you’ll see the Join Code option. Press Create Code.

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Woo hoo! Now you’ve got yourself a 7-character code that lets other Wikispaces users join your wiki easily.

Full CodeThen, your students can simply go to the address where they will be prompted to log in and automatically become members of that wiki. If the students do not have accounts yet, they can either go to your wiki address, or the Join Code address. They will then be prompted to create an account and also put in your Join Code. Then they will become a member of Wikispaces.com AND of your wiki!

Join - Member

If your students already have accounts, they will automatically become a member when they go to the Join Code page address you receive.

Join - Has Code

If your students just go to your wiki address, then they will be prompted to go to the “Join page” to input the code.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 3.25.59 PM

As a note, the code currently lasts one week and then you’ll need to add it again. You can also disable the code anytime you’d like. It shows up under “Members” as well as on the top of your wiki as long as it’s active.

Code
We were excited to see it in practice at ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) this past month at Vicki Davis’ Wonderful World of Wikis hands-on session! Below, Eric from our team helps moderate the backchannel as dozens of eager educators used the join code to easily gain access to Vicki’s resource site!

Eric at ISTE

Let us know how it goes in the comments below. Have you tried the Join Code feature yet? For what class? And how have your students liked it? We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted in Wikispaces | 2 Responses

Creative Problem Solving

I am really excited to have joined Wikispaces as Director of User Experience Design. As a former teacher, I am thrilled to be back in the Ed-Tech world to help teachers communicate and work with their students.

I am a product and experience designer from Chile, based out of San Francisco. I come from the Learning, Design & Technology Masters Program at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and from the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (aka dschool) at Stanford, where I focused on designing new approaches for cross-generational collaborative communication platforms. My previous work includes communication & storytelling Apps and educational interactive installations. Formerly, I taught interactive design to children of all ages and worked in schools and non-profit organizations to help them create and implement arts-based and design thinking curricula which celebrated a collaborative spirit and incorporated new media technology. My teaching philosophy was about developing a strong creative process towards an interdisciplinary art practice and my teaching style inspired passion for lifelong learning by encouraging my students to incorporate real life experiences in their work.

Something that I really care about is to inspire learners of all ages to become design thinkers. Design thinking is a methodology for creative problem solving. You can use it to inform your own teaching practice, or you can teach it to your students as a framework for real-world projects. The design thinking process came out of IDEO and its founder David Kelley and the Institute of design at Stanford. As a style of thinking, Design thinking has come to be defined as combining empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality in analyzing and fitting various solutions to the problem context.

The main steps of the process, as describe on    https://dschool.stanford.edu/groups/k12/wiki/332ff/Curriculum_Home_Page.html are:

 

DesignProcess

  • Empathy: Design thinking is a user-centered design process, and the empathy that comes from observing users enables design thinkers to uncover deep and meaningful needs (both overt & latent). Empathy, by definition, is the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another.
  • Define: The Define mode is seen as a ‘narrowing’ part of the process. After collecting volumes of user information, it is time to distill down to one specific user group, their need and the insight behind that need so as to unify and inspire a team. The goal of this mode is to come up with at least one actionable problem statement (often referred to as Point of View (POV)) that focuses on the insights that you uncovered from real users.
  • Ideate: Ideation is the process of idea generation. Mentally it represents a process of “going wide” in terms of concepts and outcomes. Ideation provides the fuel for building prototypes and driving innovative solutions.
  • Prototype: The act of prototyping implies “building”, testing, and iterating and is, itself, both a flaring and a narrowing process. The flaring represents the proliferation of low-resolution prototypes developed as different aspects of the prototype are evaluated and the narrowing represents the refinement of the lower resolution models into increasingly complex and resolved models.
  • Test: The test mode is another iterative mode in which we place our low-resolution artifacts in the appropriate context of the user’s life. In regards to a team’s solution, we should always prototype as if we know we’re right, but test as if we know we’re wrong—testing is the chance to refine our solutions and make them better.

Learning the design thinking process really impacted my work. I constantly apply the design thinking process in my own work and I like to help others learn the process. 

I look forward to helping Wikispaces in our mission to help teachers help students and to seeing the amazing work that you all do using our tools. I am excited about how creative and social technologies can be applied to support learning, understanding that each new tool has the potential to radically change the way people learn and teach. I’d love to learn more about the Wikispaces community and the work that you are doing, if you are interested in sharing your experiences please kindly complete this quick survey: http://www.wikispaces.com/t/y/survey201405classroom/.

Posted in Wikispaces | 4 Responses
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