Ending Support for Internet Explorer 8

As of July 1, 2014 we will no longer support Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) on Wikispaces. Starting June 1st, visitors to any Wikispaces site using IE 8 will see a warning banner linking to this blog post. We will continue to support Internet Explorer versions 9, 10, and 11 as well as modern versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

If you are using IE 8 we encourage you to upgrade to a newer version of Internet Explorer by running Windows Update or by contacting your IT department. If you can’t upgrade Internet Explorer we heartily recommend Chrome or Firefox. Both Chrome and Firefox now automatically update to the latest versions, so you’ll never be left behind again if you switch.

Internet Explorer 8 was released five years ago in March 2009. Microsoft has since released three new major IE versions, with IE 11 launching in late 2013. Given the tiny percentage of visitors who still use IE 8 on Wikispaces, we can’t continue to justify the amount of work that is required to maintain support. We try to be very conservative in ending browser support to minimize impact on those who cannot switch, especially on Windows. Here we believe we’re in good company. Google Apps, for example, dropped support for IE 8 in late 2012!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at help@wikispaces.com.

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Guest Blog Post: Wikispaces Campus as a Virtual Learning Portal in Venezuela

SullivanJessica Sullivan teaches high school Biology and serves as Science Department Head at Escuela Campo Alegre, the American International school of Caracas, Venezuela. Escuela Campo Alegre is a small (600 students) Pre-K through 12th grade English language international school primarily serving the children of expatriate families working for diplomatic agencies and international corporations. The students at Escuela Campo Alegre (ECA) come from 40 different countries and the teaching faculty represents 12 different nationalities. ECA is a one-to-one laptop school for grades 6-12, employs three full time curriculum technology integration specialists, and provides ongoing support and training in technology for the faculty. It also utilizes Wikispaces Campus service, a school-wide wiki solution providing wikis and accounts for teachers and students. Jessica has presented her work on designing course websites to international teachers in Venezuela and Argentina. In March she heads to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the Association of American Schools in South America to present Twitter Basics for Teachers: Using Twitter to Engage Students and Build Class Community. Follow Jessica on Twitter https://twitter.com/sullyteachbio!

Hello from Caracas, Venezuela! I teach International Baccalaureate Biology at Escuela Campo Alegre to a diverse group of students from around the world. ECA uses Wikispaces as our web platform to communicate with students and parents as well as our virtual learning portal during both planned and unexpected school closures. I began using Wikispaces in October of 2010 during my first year at ECA. Teachers at ECA had previously been expected to have a website for their courses, but there was not a common webhosting service or format required. As part of our transition to a more unified digital front and in preparation for anticipated school closures, we all moved to Wikispaces Campus during the fall semester of 2010.

I wanted to create an online space that was an effective communication tool with students and parents and a planning and organization system for myself. Through my own trial and error I developed a working infrastructure that supported student learning and made my life as a teacher a bit easier. Below I have outlined key elements of my Wiki organization as a tool for both my students and myself.

Effective Use of Homepage Prime Real Estate

Like many teachers, I didn’t know what to do with the white space in the center of my newly assigned wiki. I tried several different things at first and ended up going with the most important content (links to course unit pages) and the most engaging widget (embedded our Twitter newsfeed). Your homepage should engage your students and lead them right to the most important content – which for me is their class work and homework for the day.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 10.59.52 AM

Appropriate Use of Side Navigation Bar

I list links that students may need to access from any page on the wiki on the side navigation bar. These include links to General Resources, IB Biology Exam Preparation, and Advisory Information. Some teachers may prefer to include course links on the side navigation bar and put multimedia content in the main space of the homepage. That would work too – but for me I have found it easiest for students to navigate to and access content information in the center of the main page.

Course Organization by Unit

I began organizing my wiki pages by unit for each of my classes to decrease the amount of content on each page. Pages kept getting longer as I kept adding the day’s class work and homework. As I switched to organizing content not only by course but also by unit of study, I realized a few unexpected benefits. The main one was that the unit page became both a record and a template for lesson planning for future semesters. It also became a contextualized hub for bookmarking links, documents and animations. Seeing a list of units on the homepage overwhelmed some students, so just this year I began highlighting the current unit so the students know exactly where to go for their course information.

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Tables, Tables and More Tables!

I found the insert table function to be incredibly valuable in organizing the content of my Wiki. By putting content in rows and columns I made better use of the space available across the wiki page. It is also much easier for students to located content in a table format. In fact, when I began working on my Wiki and before I sharing it with students, I asked my students which teachers had the best Wikis on campus. All of the teachers that the students mentioned had the daily class work and homework organized into a table. Now I use tables not only for the class work and homework calendar but also for organization of course units, links and IB Biology resources.

Favorite Embedded Widgets

My favorite widgets are the Google countdown clock and the embedded Twitter feed. I teach IB Biology which culminates in a series of exams for the International Baccalaureate diploma during May of the students’ senior year. I keep a countdown clock on the homepage of the wiki to keep students on their toes and focused on our goal…arriving prepared for the IB Biology exam!

The embedded Twitter feed keeps students engaged with the pictures, reminders, announcements and supplemental course links that I post via Twitter. Students are already inundated with social media notifications and updates so having all of my @sullyteachbio content in one place makes sure my tweets get to their intended audience in a timely manner.
As with all things in a teaching, wiki design is a work in progress – it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time, it just has to work a little better than what you were doing before. Keep making small improvements as you learn what works and your Wiki will evolve to be a helpful tool for both you and your students.

I hope this helps you in your quest to build a wiki that works for you and your students. Drop me a line at jessicas@ecak12.com or @sullyteachbio – let’s keep the conversation going!

Learn more about Wikispaces Campus for your school with Eric on our team next month! Register here.

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Wikispaces Classroom Tour with Tim King: Shared Notes and Assessment

29958_391557800355_544680355_4497749_6109049_nMeet Tim King, Head of Computer Studies at Centre Wellington DHS in Fergus, Ontario, Canada. He recently discussed how he is using Wikispaces Classroom for sharing notes with his high school students on his blog, and it was so awesome that we invited him here to  show  other educators how to get going with a similar space for their own class.

It all begins on TEJ101morning, his Grade 9 Introduction to Computer Technology Survey course wiki, where he has created a Wikispaces Classroom environment for his students. (Wikispaces Classroom is our newest type of wiki that has extra goodies just for teachers, including a Newsfeed and an Assessment tool. If you already have a wiki, you can turn on the Classroom features by going to Settings->General page and choose “Classroom.” You’ll notice you now have a few extra features along the top, including the Assessment tool Tim highlighted. Feel free to check out our tutorial here to learn more.)

As a former English teacher, Tim was interested in helping improve the note-taking process with his students. To that end, he had each student pick a chapter of content from their eBook and create a separate wiki page for the portion they were responsible for. On each page, students typed their notes, inserted links, pictures and video while other  students read and edited each other’s. He noticed they were much more engaged in this note-taking process because they were sharing their notes with a  real audience.  During this course, he happened upon our Assessment tool.


A picture from Tim King’s blog, http://ugdsbpd.blogspot.ca, showcasing his use of the Wikispaces Classroom Assessment tool.

The Assessment tool displays a list of all students in the course and shows their activity on the site in real-time, including when they are reading a page, editing content and everytime a page is saved. He showed it to his students and projected it on his screen during class to give his students instant feedback, which the students promptly got excited about, pushing themselves even further. At the end of this project, Tim noted that  his students’ actual grades improved.

Enough of us, Tim shows it so much better!

Want to see a step-by-step guide to building this kind of resource? Check out our 15-minute ride through getting the Assessment feature up and running for your students.

And a quick tour of the tool is below.

If you want to join us for an interactive, hands-on experience with the Assessment tool,  please join us for our 90-minute online course on using Wikispaces Classroom this week.

Make and Take: Wikispaces Classroom Online Course

90 minutes of hands-on exploration of a Wikispaces Classroom site. Learn how to interact with the Newsfeed, create Projects, and track student progress with Assessments. A longer session means more time to play, and you’ll even earn a Certificate of Completion afterwards!

Time: Wednesday, Dec 18th, 7pm Pacific Standard Time (Thursday, Dec. 19th, 2pm Sydney time) Click here to find out what time it will be for you!

Register Here

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3 Cyber Monday Goodies for the Discerning EdTech Reader

Holiday Movie Marathon Mash-Up

Mix up your Netflix queue of holiday classics with recordings from last month’s Global Education Conferenceall in one place for your viewing pleasure. And with global wiki projects to join like this one, we’re certain you’ll walk away with a few great ideas for the New Year.

Still need more? Take a peek at the #nyscate feed from the annual New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education Conference, and let us know any other great conference feeds to check out this month!

Need something live to watch and participate in? Join tonight’s interactive EduTech Smackdown, Dec. 2nd at 8pm Eastern.

Buy One Get One Free Google Glass

Got your attention! We kid, of course, and while you may itching for a Cyber Monday deal on this piece of tech,  we were  simply excited to read Wikispaces power-user Margaret Powers explain how she’s used the wearable computing device in her classroom. Is there a new gadget you’re interested in experimenting with in the new year with your students? The Glass Explorer program looks to be taking more inquiries of interest–more information here if you want to try out what Margaret’s doing at her school.

Hour of Code

You’d be amazed to watch the engineers at the Wikispaces office do their thing, and we’re always excited to see opportunities arise for more students to learn the magic of programming themselves. In honor of Computer Science Education Week, educators are invited to host an Hour of Code in their classrooms during the week of Dec. 9th through 15th. Join the fun here, and let us know how you use wikis to share coding with your students! Just a quick gander at the list of ten fastest growing jobs in the past five years will be reason enough to get your students involved.

We hope you’ll check out our Wikispaces Classroom online community for more– free to join, and share any Cyber Monday EdTech goodies you found! Events, gadgets, or just good ideas welcome :) 

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Featured Wiki: geniushour

Shared under a CC By 2.0 license. mrsdkrebs at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/9071497283/Denise Krebs and Gallit Zvi started the geniushour wiki in March of 2012.

1. Briefly describe your group, your wiki, and what you use it to do:
We are a collaborative group of teachers dedicated to Genius Hour. Genius Hour is a movement in education that allows students to plan their own inquiry projects based on their own passions and wonders. Genius, as Seth Godin describes it, is “the act of solving a problem in a way no one has solved it before. It has nothing to do with winning a Nobel prize in physics or certain levels of schooling. It’s about using human insight and initiative to find original solutions that matter.” When students choose their own problems to solve in genius hour, school becomes a wonderful place of learning and growing, a place to be creative and productive and do work that matters. We all know students do not become deeply, personally invested in worksheets, but they do in genius hour.

We use our wiki, geniushour.wikispaces.com to share resources, documents and blog links. Another important aspect of our wiki is the chat archive page. On the first Thursday of each month, educators from around the world get on twitter and, using the hashtag #GeniusHour, we have a discussion about how we are implementing Genius Hour in our classrooms, and other related topics.

For more information about Genius Hour, read the “Genius Hour Manifesto”!

2. Besides the Edit button, which wiki feature is your favorite?
The “recent changes” is a wonderful option! Because there is a group of us editing the site regularly, it is nice to see what changes have been recently made (rather than having to scroll through each page and try to discover them)!

3. What is one way you’re using wikis and other web 2.0 tools in your projects?
Part of genius hour is having students share their learning with their classroom peers, as well as a global audience. Students use wikis, blogs, Voki, Prezi, Glogster, Powtoon, Voicethread, iMovie, video editing software and YouTube, and many other tools to publish their work.

4. Tell us about a particular moment that made you say, “Aha! THIS is why I use wikis!”
We chose to use Wikispaces from the beginning because we wanted this to be a collaborative, interactive site. As a result, there are so many teachers and classrooms doing genius hour around the world now! We want the community to add to and edit this resource. Wikispaces makes it easy for many people to be involved in the wiki.

5. If you could ask it, what do you think your wiki would say about you?
We think our wiki would say that we are educators who are passionate about student choice and 21st century learning! And that we are inclusive; let us know if you would like to contribute!

Posted in Education, Featured Wiki, Wikispaces | Comments closed
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