Where do we Mash to?

I have been in some conversations over the last week or so that have centered on the ability to be able to mashup content from multiple content sources into a blog, a portal, an LMS such as Moodle , Eclass , StudyWiz , CLC , or virtually anywhere. This discussion has caused me to reflect on the comments of Wesley Fryer in referring to safe areas away from public view for students. He calls this sort of an application a walled garden .

Having been in a school where the portal was so ineffective and so poorly used as to be a complete waste of everyone’s time, it makes me think that we really need to think very carefully about how we as educators use tools with our students. There are some truly excellent tools out there for learners. Last night I accidentally stumbled upon this post by Alan Levine about 50 web2.0 ways to tell a story . The tools are listed and supported by great exemplars on an excellent wiki .

Sure, we as educators can and maybe should make use of tools such as these but do we try to mash them into some sort of portal? Do we just make links to them on our class webpage? Is there some way that they can be pulled together for easy monitoring by staff members no so familiar with tracking RSS feeds ?

And what of privacy concerns? Should we just allow any tool to be made use of if we can see a fit with what we are doing in class? If so, how do we respond to a parent who informs us of a bullying situation on an external website between kids at our school? Can we really say that we have no responsibility for what happens out on the web when we are making use of it in our teaching?

Comments welcome!



3 thoughts on “Where do we Mash to?

  1. Pingback: A E » Blog Archive » Where do we Mash to?

  2. Paul: I think the key is helping students as well as parents develop their own capacities and dispositions as “digital citizens.” No, teachers can’t take and shouldn’t take responsibility for everything students do and encounter online at school or away from school. The analogy of driving is appropriate here. What we are doing (or should be doing) is helping equip kids to be responsible and ethical decision makers when they are outside the direct control and supervision of adults and teachers. Will they make bad choices? Will they mess up? Inevitably. The world is and will remain a dangerous place filled with diverse options, and we need to help our students make good choices.

    In terms of the “portal” idea, I was struck a couple of weeks ago following a conversation with Scott Charlson and Kent Brooks about how “un-needed” technology support departments are from a certain perspective. For teachers and students who want to utilize web 2.0 tools, everything they need is “out there” on the web and available. The reality is, of course, that the majority of teachers are NOT innovator / early adapter teachers, and therefore won’t use these tools without formal support and encouragement.

    Portals are therefore important to help the early majority, late majority, and (perhaps) laggard teachers with respect to technology integration get on board and utilize these tools. The experiences of Scott and Kent at WOSC suggest that Moodle may be “the killer app” when it comes to organizational elearning and blended learning portals. My suggestion, if you have not already, is to setup a Moodle server and invite several of your more adventurous teachers to utilize it as a sandbox with students. Moodle is free, very robust, has a great user community, and can take away some of the important excuses teachers as well as administrators may put forward when it comes to elearning portals: EXPENSE. Moodle isn’t free, you still need a server and bandwidth, as well as technical folks to support the installation, but comparatively speaking I think there are VERY compelling reasons for utilizing it as the sort of portal it sounds like you’re looking for.

    Good luck.

  3. Pingback: Moodle as “the killer app” » Moving at the Speed of Creativity

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