Brett Young started the mryoungspace wiki in November of 2008.
1. Briefly describe your group, your wiki, and what you use it to do:
My classroom wikispace has been completely embedded into my teaching practice. By using my classroom wiki, I have virtually made my classroom paperless. My students create their own wikispace, at the beginning of each semester, and link their wikispace with mine on a page that we create that stems from our classroom wiki. All students have access to each other’s wikis to allow for a more “community” approach in our learning and sharing with each other. All classroom materials, outlines for daily activities, Student Learning Objectives, are accessed through our classroom wiki. My main approach to this is to allow students to have complete access to our classroom, at any time, no matter where they are in the world. Students can be on vacation, traveling with sports teams, or away due to illness, and they can still participate in our classroom just by going to the classroom wikispace. Students never have an excuse for not knowing what is going on in the classroom as the wiki can be accessed on any computer or device including the iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, and other mobile devices. Our wiki is also great for keeping parents updated on what is going on within our classroom. At any time, a parent can go to the wikispace and pretty much see every element of what is being taught, the materials being distributed, and upcoming dates for certain classroom and school activities. I have also had other teachers use the wiki to collect resources for their classrooms and have a “guide” to follow with the class outlines and our daily activities. My policy with those resources is “Take it! Change it to fit your class needs! Let me know how it works for you! I don’t need any credit! Why reinvent the wheel when the resource is already there for you?”
2. Besides the Edit button, which wiki feature is your favorite?
I have two! The first one would be the embed feature for YouTube videos. Instead of going back and forth to YouTube for certain materials I can just embed the video right into the wikispace. It has allowed me to accumulate a collection of videos and material that are always at my disposal at any time, in any place! The second one would be the ability to upload documents and resources for the students to download. Never again do I have to hear “I lost this piece of paper! It is ripped! I wasn’t here for it when you handed it out!” All of my students know to go, check the wiki, and download the handouts they need.
3. What is one way you’re using wikis and other web 2.0 tools in your projects?
Wikis and other web 2.0 tools allow teachers to give students a lot more freedom in discovering and creating more meaningful learning. Students today, are already using these tools in their everyday lives. I see it as my job to keep up with what they are using and help them discover how to harness and use it to demonstrate their learning in all of their classes. The wikis have allowed my students to engage in meaningful learning as it gives THEM, not me, control of their learning. Some people might think that this is just going online, copying and pasting stuff onto a page, and hitting save. That is definitely not the case! Our wikis have allowed the students the freedom to share their thoughts through writing, upload videos that they have taken with their cameras and phones, share pictures they have taken and edited using web 2.0 tools, and have a collection of links to resources they find useful in their research for other classes. Plus these tools allow all student needs to be met. I might have a student who struggles with writing but can talk about their learning. So instead of them having to share through text, we can upload a video of them talking about a certain topic. Some students may feel uncomfortable speaking out in class, so they decide to share their thoughts on their wikispace through text. The cool thing is that all of this is being done in their own space. The best part is that wikis are a global tool! They are not hidden in a notebook or just handed in on paper where only one person can view at time. Wikis and web 2.0 tools have allowed our learning to go global! The walls of the physical classroom have come crashing down and we allow ourselves to share with everyone!
4. Tell us about a particular moment that made you say, “Aha! THIS is why I use wikis!”
There was a moment about two years ago, when I had a student come up to me after she had completed one of my Media Studies classes and had graduated from high school. It was the first time I had seen her since graduation and she specifically had to tell me that she missed having a classroom wiki to go to in her university classes. She missed having things just “being there” for her to access on a needs basis. Plus she also missed the idea of being able to view what other students were working on and the sharing of ideas within our “wiki community”. However, she did tell me that she was using a wikispace for one of her classes in order to put some assignments together and for group collaboration for a project. When she presented it to the professor, he was very impressed and asked to know more about what these “wikispace things” were. Right there, it showed me that, even outside of my class, my students were using the tools they had discovered to take their learning to the next level. They were finding ways in their personal lives to use a tool, such as a wikispace, to make it work for them! Even today, I have students going to teachers and asking them to look at their assignments and learning on their personal wikispace and teachers are coming to me and saying “Hey! This is a great way to have everything in one place!” My reaction is always “Yep! They work really well! You should try one!”
5. If you could ask it, what do you think your wiki would say about you?
Oh wow! My first reaction to this question was that it would say “Good thing you are a teacher and I get summers off too because we sure spend a lot of time together!” Ha Ha Ha! This is true because all of my classes stem from my classroom wiki and we do spend a lot of time together! I guess my wiki would say that over the last four years we have done our best to open some doors in student learning and accountability. Between myself and my wiki (yes, us together) we have made it virtually impossible for students, parents, administrators, other teachers, and the rest of society to not know what is going on within our classroom. Some teachers may look at it as “extra work” but once you get into it, and learn the basics of what to do, the doors will open up and you won’t teach your class the same way again. I always think of my wikispace as my “Teacher’s Day Book”, except it is not sitting on a desk, it is open for the world to see. There is no hiding in our classroom. We have our student learning objectives posted, we know what we are trying to learn, we have daily activities posted, the resources from text, images, and video are endless, and everyone has their own wikispace to showcase their learning in many different, unique, and creative ways! I guess I would say that our class wiki has taught me that the days of having things “handed in” just for the teacher to view are over! Now, there is no excuse for not sharing our learning on a more community and global scale. Because of that reason, I am truly excited about the future of education!