Well, still hoping for some input here, but on the way to hot and humid Ga. (where I am watching the Kudzu eat steadily toward the house) I composed my list of what I’d like to see in an education-specific weblog software:
– A metafilter-like comment system that opens a new page for discussion with each post to the front page. Now I know that Manilla does this to a certain extent, but as I’ve said here before, I love the MF interface.
– An e-mail list update feature, so that people will know when changes are made to the page.
– A registration process to limit access (pretty standard, I know).
– Easy file uploads for graphics and such (much like what Blogger Pro offers).
– Easy linking of text (again, like Blogger).
– Multi-column use to create either a newspaper effect a la p-machine or to do side by side posts etc.
– Some type of table of contents feature that is organizable.
– Easy set up on servers and usable on whatever most schools currently run. (Just curious as to what percentage of schools are now networked with Internet servers.)
– Some type of local-run feature for privacy issues.
I also made a short list of ways that weblogs can be used in an educational setting. Some of these I have found examples for:
– Four-year perfromance portfolios
– Reader response logs
– Writing feedback logs
– Professional portfolios (which will be something I will be trying in my teacher portfolio seminars next year.)
– Departmental portfolios (wouldn’t it be cool to do a Best Practices weblog by department or school?)
– Staff weblog for the discussion of schoolwide issues
– Community weblogs involving parents and residents
– Student newspapers, potentially for each class
– Learning journals
– Classroom management/homepages
– Student/mentor collaborations
– I-search projects
– Team problem solving
– Class/group magazine
– Content area portal (say Sports Talk) etc.
– News filters for particular content areas
– Book chats (group/class)
– Collaborations with professionals
I’m sure there are many more, and I would really like to grow this list as we move forward.
My school is on the verge of making some BIG decisions concerning technology and the direction we take in terms of using the Internet and network to facilitate communication, create community and make teachers jobs simpler. Our Director of Tech will be retiring in Feb., and I’ve been asked to be part of a discussion on where we go from here. We are very wired and have the technology in place. But what has been missing, I think, is a long-term vision of how to make the technology work more effectively for the classroom teacher. Most of our teachers use the Internet and the technology in very cursory ways. (The old 80% using 20% of the capabilities situation.) Most of those who run the Internet and the network are very skilled and supportive, but they have no right brains, and for the most part, they have no classroom experience. They can’t make it practical, and they don’t have the design sense to make it attractive and intuitive for both staff and community.
I guess I’m seeing this HUGE opportunity to do something with weblogs on a pretty large scale; it’s a pretty unique situation, actually. I want to nail the research that I know I’ll be presenting. That’s why I’m looking for Best Practice ideas, and why I’m so interested in the idea of creating something just for schools.
A few quick links to take a look at:
IBM Tech Ed Grants…I’m sure they would be interested in this work. Tech Learning magazine. It has some pretty useful case studies for grants. And, check out what Apple’s come up with for schools. Wow.