Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wiki wiki wiki!

I'm running around the students, with their laptops, like a blue-arsed fly. My year 7 creative writing class numbers twenty-four. Sitting these kids in front of their own computers quickly identifies the really tech savvy, the competent and the passive aggressive borderline personality disorders.

The litany from the sulky kids: "My computer won't work!" (Have a cry, I think.) "I don't know what to do...My computer won't let me log in." Whinge, whinge, slump at the desk, rest head on heel of hand and look miserable. Meanwhile, one female student has logged on and edited my wiki homepage in a way that I don't particularly like. Other students are using the discussion board: "dont u think patrick is sooooo cute!??!" As I rush around the room students, quickly click out of forbidden sites. The creative writing lesson I've planned fails to eventuate except for five students. The lesson is about me trying to appear competent when I'm not. I'm okay on my own; it's a bit trickier managing the entire class. Despite this, I book in for another lesson.

People who teach with laptops and computers may find this pathetic. Me? I pop a couple of paracetamol tabs before my next class, which is, happily, back in my regular classroom.

Between classes I type in all the kids email addresses and invite them to join the class wiki. About four comply, given that if they join they have to do so from their home computer. Sounds too much like homework to the rest.

I consult the IT guy at school to see if there's a better way to achieve what I want: getting all the students signed up to the wiki and publishing their writing on line for the pleasure of the entire class. (BTW, I'm the only one reading the class wiki. Reminds me of my blog!) He suggests I get the remaining students signed up during class and tells me an easier way to do this involving students signing up to, then requesting membership of the class website and me pressing my 'refresh' key. It is easier.

Kids begin posting links to their work on one page on the wiki. This doesn't work. It's too much of a convoluted process for me to click on the link, open their writing in Word, correct and assess it, then reload the modified work onto the wiki.

IT guy tells me to set up a page for each kid in the class, which I do.

Next lesson in the library computer area, I dole out the laptops to the students, carefully recording which laptop each student has taken, to help prevent vandalism. (Funny how they like to prise the keys off the keyboard and slam the computers around, or carry them around by their lids.) The students log on. They retrieve their work from the 'student share' area and begin writing. They're entering the Write Across Victoria competition and most are keen to participate. They write away happily and then when it's pack up time I tell them to copy and paste their work to their page on the wiki. This is when the internet drops out. Suddenly there's a scramble for USBs - for those students who have brought theirs to class. The rest line up while I pass around my own USB so they can save their work. I'm then the one who ends up emailing all the kids' stories later.

See how cleverly I've increased my own workload?

But wait, there's more.

I was feeling quite pleased with my ICT enterprise. All my kids had published their work appropriately on the wiki. Time to assess it. The process went thus: log onto the class wiki; click on each student's page; when page opens; click 'edit'; wait a few seconds for page to load; mark up and underline student's work; make comments in caps in brackets; type encouraging remark and grade at the bottom of the story; click 'save'; wait a few seconds for page to load; click on next student...

Twice during this process, the internet dropped out due to the weather, or whatever! I was craving 'hard copies', highlighter pens and hand-writing. So much easier.

Assessing on line took bleeding ages!

But back for more next week.