We’re very excited to be reading your tweets, blog comments, and emails about how you’re getting started with Wikispaces Classroom. We wanted to share with you a few basic steps to get your online classroom up and running without too much work. Note: if you are a Private Label customer, Wikispaces Classroom features will be rolling out in the coming weeks so we can get things just right for you!
Starting with your Existing Site
We know many of our users have amazing Wikispaces.com and Wikispaces Private Label sites already set up and running effectively. The first step to trying out Wikispaces Classroom is going into your Settings and switching it to Classroom mode. Remember once you switch, Settings will be up top on your Organizer Bar.
Now you’ll notice a few things change. First your theme will be standardized. For the moment, all Wikispaces Classrooms have this simple theme so that we can guarantee a really good user experience and you and your students can focus on your work.
None of your data will be lost in the change and you can always change back. We hope you’ll love the new environment, though, and look forward to any feedback you have that will help us make the transition even easier.
Preparing Your Students
While many of your students may be tech-savvy, they’ll still need to learn the norms of your online classroom to maximize their learning time on the site. The first thing you’ll need to do, of course, is get them there! If you don’t already have accounts for students, you can easily create them under Settings-User Creator.
Since Wikispaces Classroom is a social environment, we encourage teachers to have students create avatars that represent themselves the first day. There are many fun avatar creators out there, like the Simpsons Ride creator we used, and you can find one suitable for your class with a quick online search for “avatar creator.”
To get started, simply have your students click on their username in the top right of the page and then click on Settings. After that, they can click “Change picture” to upload their picture. Teachers, don’t forget to make one for yourself! It all adds to the creation of motivation and community in your Wikispaces Classroom.
Setting Up Your Newsfeed
Last week, we highlighted how the Newsfeed works– it’s the new homepage for your Wikispaces Classroom. Now that your students are created and have avatars, you’re ready to give them something to do!
Starting a Discussion is easy– think of a question you’d like the whole class to respond to. It could be homework and something they respond to before coming into class, or perhaps it’s a mid-class break where you’d like to collect all of their feedback. Whatever the question, post it and watch your students easily respond! All Discussions on the News Feed continue to aggregate here, so you can start new ones, go back to old, and Monitor or Lock your posts. Best of all, students can pose their own questions for the class, and then see their classmates’ thoughts on their questions.
The next step is to plan for your Discussions— when will you post, when will students be expected to post, and what are acceptable comments? We have seen Wikispaces teachers create wonderful lessons for preparing students to collaboratively write and can’t wait to hear how you prepare them for the News Feed. A good rule of thumb is to allow for practice and modeling of great comments and potentially allowing for online participation to figure into your assessments.
We hope these are helpful for your first steps into Wikispaces Classroom– the easiest part is just switching it on in Settings. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be highlighting other ways to get started– stay tuned for Projects!
Please watch more on our archived Wikispaces Classroom Demo and Tour or sign up for an upcoming live tour. Once you make your Classroom, we’d love it if you’d join our #wclassroom Challenge on Twitter! Simply tweet out your Classroom and how you’re using it with #wclassroom. Don’t have Twitter? Comment below.