Friday, November 19, 2010

New Semester, New Tricks

Though this semester isn't quite over, the new semester is just around the corner. I've been dabbling in lots of digital writing venues and social networks trying to find out what works best, what's the most fun, what's going to inspire engagement, etc. in my college composition classroom.

I've also been thinking about alternatives to boring old Blackboard, trying new types of digital writing (like scripting podcasts for iTunes or documentaries for YouTube), and addressing the digital humanities in my classroom. We use the discussion board, digital dropbox, and chat features on Blackboard, but those seem so basic when there are so many more creative options out there!

Here is a list of some things I've been playing with:

Social Networks

1. This site lets you build your own social network, akin to Facebook. It has tools to add wikis, file sharing, video chat, and comments. You can also choose themes and run multiple networks. Very nifty!

2. GoogleWave: The feedback on Google Wave hasn't been super positive, and it looks like it might be on the way out. While it exists, though, I'm willing to give it a shot. I've never used it myself, seeing as I don't have most of my friends' Google contact information, but the concept is very cool. I think it could, perhaps, be a useful tool for online tutoring or writing conferences with students. 

3. Twitter: My new favorite toy! As a teacher, I have been using Twitter to develop a PLN (Personal Learning Network). I follow chats like #edchat, #ntchat (new teacher chat), #engchat, and #eltchat. It's amazing what you can learn from 140 characters of writing from a teacher somewhere across the globe. 

Digital Writing Venues

1. Blogger & Wordpress: Though I clearly stuck with Blogger for my own blog, both of these websites offer fairly similar traditional blogging options.

2. Tumblr: Tumblr is also a blog site, but it seems to be geared towards producing photojournals rather than predominately text-based blogs.

3. Glogster: Is it a blog or is it a poster? Need I say more. I think Glogster has some really interesting potential for students. You can create hyperlinkable posters, complete with sound, video clips, images, and clip art. Very cool. It could make an interesting e-portfolio homepage. I think it could also work well as a first-day introduce-yourself-to-the-class type of assignment. 

4. Wikispaces: I didn't use a wiki for the course I teach this semester, but I am trying to use one as part of a graduate course project (though I'm not using wikispaces). It's an interesting process, and I think I'm learning as I go along, as are my collaborating classmates. I'm curious how teachers are using wikis in their classrooms!

Some other cool resources

1. Wozaik: Wozaik is one of my new favorite tools. Wozaik creates web mosaics of bookmarks. You can clip out images from pages or thumbnails, and Wozaik complies them into lists that you can see and click. It's great for compiling resource archives, blogrolls, or just sharing favorite websites with others. You can share the lists via Fb, Twitter, or email, too.

2. Xtranormal: Create animated videos from text. I saw someone use Xtranormal to work on arguments and counterarguments. I think it has some really interesting possibilities for classroom use.

I'd love to get some input from teachers about technology they have used in their classrooms. What are some of the technologies you are using in your classrooms? Which did you find to be the most successful? Was anything a total failure?

I'd also love to hear from students! What would you be interested in using in a writing class? What do you already use? Is there anything that sounds absolutely ridiculous to you?

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