Blogs, Wikis, & Web 2.0 in the Classroom

Presentation for Wisconsin State Reading Association | February 8, 2008
© Dawn Hogue | Sheboygan Falls High School


Blogs & Wikis

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Web 2.0 Tools

  • Go2Web20, a huge collection of very cool things to play with!

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Keyboards changed how we write. The Internet changed how we communicate.

"Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom" (Time magazine), which is one reason it is so important to teach not only about the power of the Web, but also about the responsibility each of us has in generating quality Web content.

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Web 2.0 & Why we should change

The basic difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is that 2.0 is more collaborative and content is produced by users. Time magazine named each of us as person of the year because we "made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software."

The main story of 2006 is "about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes." Time magazine

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us, A video view of Web 2.0 that really "gets it!" Four and a half minutes well spent!

This presentation is about how Web tools, like Blogs and Wikis, help us create community and collaboration within our classrooms. And in doing so, we may also

  • get students excited about writing and thinking
  • teach students about being responsible Web content generators
  • give students an authentic audience for whom to write
  • help students participate in the collaborative community of Web 2.0
  • give students practice in using tools that the real world uses
  • eliminate walls--school can be anywhere there is a computer and the Internet
  • time and space really are relative--we can collaborate with anyone, anywhere, anytime (in different time zones)
  • learn more, ourselves, about how technology integration pushes our thinking as teachers
  • and more . . . .

Today's students are DIGITAL learners!

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A Blog is an online journal (a weblog), a webpage, that allows users to post content and get feedback via comments. New developments in plug-ins like Widgets, give Bloggers fun options for sharing their world with their audience. Teacher Blogs range from journals to course management tools. Student Blogs in English classes are often spaces for literary reflection, but they could be anything the student and teacher can envision.

True bloggers don't only write blogs, they read them, comment on them, and therefore participate in a community of ideas.

  • Interactive; comments and RSS feeds
  • Ownership; your own space, making your own decisions about contenct and design, or "agency" as Janet Murray calls it
  • Authentic audience
  • Transformative: write a blog post as a reaction to another blog post and get comments that you can also react to
    • What can I learn from you & what can you learn from me?
      • The teacher is no longer the only source of information; she is not responsible for making all the connections.
    • Blogs can push reading, writing, and thinking up the taxonomy; students are synthesizing and evaluating!
  • Blogs in Plain English (a cool video that explains it "all")

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Students and Blogging

A special Reading Journal

I wanted a way to differentiate instruction for my exchange student from Sierra Leone, who comes to the United States from a vastly different culture and way of life that most of us can barely conceive. She's an intelligent girl who is used to reciting after teachers for schooling. Not only had she no electricity in her home, but of course, she had never seen a computer. Despite this apparent impediment to using technology, she and I are contributing to a blog: We Read. Right now we are reading Things Fall Apart. We can work at our own pace (her pace) and need not worry about what others are doing. We can see our progress. This Blog also features a page for links for the novel and a page for vocabulary words per chapter.

More . . .

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Teachers using Blogs

Use your blog as a course management tool. Set up pages for your classes on which you can publish such things as

  • assignments
  • links
  • general class information
  • email link to you

Your blog can be accessed anytime, anywhere by your students and their parents. Parents love that they can have access to your filing cabinet. Teachers who publish online automatically become collaborators. Share! You can also edit it from anywhere, making it easy to keep your blog up to date. You need no special software or really any extraordinary tech skills to be a blogger.

Parents and students can subscribe to your blog so they can easily stay up to date!


Many teachers use Blogs for professional reflection. Ms. K's Teaching Reflection Blog began when Ms. K. was my student teacher in 2007. She has kept it going as a first year teacher.

My colleague and I are participated in UW Madison's Center for the Humanities Great World Texts in Wisconsin. We wrote Shared Solitude, a blog about our experiences teaching the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Blog to learn: teachers who are engaged in topics like literacy, Big 6 information skills, technology integration, or even simply blogging, can write, read (stay connected through RSS feeds), and comment.

More about classroom blogging

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A Wiki is a website that allows collaboration. Students can log in and edit a project, leave comments for each other (or the team) and see the transformation of collaborative writing as it occurs.

Teachers can also use Wikis for online collaboration. RSS feeds (or other notifications) let you know when someone's made some changes needing your attention.

Online collaborative writing can eliminate time and space. Whether using a Wiki, a Moo, or Google Docs, or another tool, all we need is a computer and the Internet and we can work together. Web 2.0 tools

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How You Can Begin

  • Begin small, but begin. Teachers who use the technology they want to integrate will understand it in ways that cannot be learned in a book. Become a digital learner.
  • Start your own Blog. Create your own teacher presence. Use the tools you want to integrate into your classes.
  • Read teacher Blogs, books, journals, etc. Become educated on why change is warranted.
  • Comment on Blogs (become part of the discussion).
  • Think about what benefits there are for your students (and for YOU!).
  • Talk to your department chair, administrative team, and tech specialist. Tell them what you want and why.
  • Be TENACIOUS! Your students need you!

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"Using Blogs and Wikis in the Classroom", a workshop for teachers.

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