Making Decisions

October 7, 2007

So I was all geared up for the school year. I had roughly outlined my lessons for the semester, pretty happy about this since I have two new classes this year. I had outlined several blog article topics. I had also help several new teachers set-up ClassBlogmeister accounts. My summer of planning new ideas and learning new methods was ready to unfold. Then I logged-in to my school computer.

Blocked. Website Problems

In reviewing many of the sites I used last year and some of the new sites proposed for this year this is what I saw. I do not mean to add to the growing list of educational blog articles complaining of filtering; however, I must express my frustration and plan for this school year. I spread to many people at NECC this new blog site because I was frustrated with not being able to update my EduBlogs site; a problem since corrected by the addition of a new server. I choose WordPress because it is what my wife uses and I previously could read her blog at my school. This is no longer the case.

My dilemma is two fold: blogging and wikis

What to do about my blog:
I like the use of both sites, especially since EduBlogs has upgraded with the addition of a new server. However, I shared with many people my WordPress site. I also transferred my postings from EduBlogs to WordPress. Unfortunately the WordPress site looks horrible at school. I am trying to demonstrate the advantages of such applications, but the site looks bad. But if I transfer back, then what about those readers outside of my school? Will I loose readers, all twelve of them, if I just back to EduBlogs?

After weeks of debate I have decided to post on both sites. I realize the time I will waste, but until a proper solution can be determined this is what I have resolved at the best action.

Wikis:
I have grown to find several applications of wikis in the classroom. Since this type of site is often new to my students I must demonstrate its use. I also had a grand idea of using wikis to share lesson plans between teachers at not only my school, but other schools. Unfortunately Wikispaces and PB Wiki are blocked. I found it interesting that while I began debating my options I stumbled upon an article in Today’s Catholic Teacher an article specifically siting these sites as preferred wiki sites. Nothing against Susan Brooks-Young, the article is great and she is clearly educated in this topic, but I found it interesting that a site devoted to Catholic teachers, I teach at a Catholic school, notes for use the sites I have been told are not appropriate for education.

I have looked into creating a new wiki on a different website; although I feel that Wikispaces and PBWiki are great sites and hate to leave. Then in browsing various wiki sites I noticed that in over thirty wiki sites the only ones blocked are those I made popular at my school. I wonder if our filtering service would even know they exist had it not been for my students. I know they do not know the power within these sites. At least Susan knows and I trust that someone is able to enjoy the sites.

I am working without webmaster to integrate wiki technology within the schools web server. He tried MediaWiki and the requirements exceed our current system. However, Miguel Guhlin recommended to me PMWiki. You will know if this works because I will be ecstatic.

This is where I am. Now back to sharing the ideas from my class.

Preview of posts to come:

iPod magic–students actually reviewing vocabulary
SMARTBoards–I get to play with some fun new products and so do my students
NECC 2008–proposal is in, now we wait

Enjoy your day,

Kyle