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?