WikiSpaces as an Online Collaborative Tool

Working in WikiSpaces is similar to working in PBWorks or a blogging tool like WordPress. However, I find it a bit more frustrating. I’ll begin by discussing what I enjoy about WikiSpaces. It has a simple layout with three buttons at the top: add a page, add a  file, and discuss. You can easily link to another page in the wiki, which really helps when navigating between multiple pages.

Unfortunately, there are more reasons that I did not like WikiSpaces than there were in favor of the tool. I really do not like the fact that only one person can edit a page at a given time. There are plenty of other tools out there like Google Docs that will allow multiple editors to edit documents. I also found that the formatting within this tool is not consistent in any way. I had to change the formatting multiple times before it finally looked how I wanted it to look. For example, I had to manually number a list in order for the numbers to appear as I needed them, rendering the numbering tool that is built in useless. The page looked different depending on the size of the computer screen, which caused even more problems with the formatting.

This is a tool that could be used in the classroom, but I feel like I will not be using it because there are so many flaws with the formatting. When creating pages for a class, they need to look professional, and I do not think WikiSpaces is as functional as other tools out there.

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“Life of an Educator” Critique

I had the privilege of reviewing the award-winning blog, Life of an Educator, in class today. Dr. Justin Tarte, Director of Curriculum & Support Services in the Union R-XI School District in Union, Missouri, created this blog in June 2010 as a way to increase collaboration amongst educators and incorporate technology and social media into an educational setting. Check out his video about what he stands for regarding education:

This blog seems to be centered on trying to do what is best for students, which is what education is all about. The students are the reason we do everything (or they should be). Anyone who is serious about educating others will find something of interest on this blog. For example, here is a post about how much time is actually wasted if the first and last five minutes of each class are not used effectively. This is an article about how powerful it is for a teacher to say “hello” and “goodbye” to his or her students. When students see and hear teachers communicating with them, they see that teachers are actually humans that care about them. I would highly encourage any educator to follow this blog. There are so many positive posts that shed light on current struggles, solutions, and resources regarding today’s students. After four years of serious blogging, there are plenty of posts to read, but I promise they will be worth it!

Is Netvibes the best tool for a startpage?

Last week, we learned about Netvibes, a free tool that allows its users to create a startpage in any internet browser (I used Chrome, but please use personal preference). You can set it as your homepage so that this page is pulled up when you first open your browser. Honestly, I love this tool! I have never had a startpage (“dashboard” according to Netvibes), but I really enjoy having everything pushed to me instead of having to search for information myself. I didn’t realize how lazy that sounded until I typed it, but I regret nothing.

Anyways, the tabs across the top of the page allow me to organize threads by category, my favorite one being the Standards-Based Learning tab. All of the blogs that I read on a regular basis regarding SBL appear on this tab, and I can easily see updates all in one place. My General tab has a To-Do list, weather, Twitter, and other personal tools that I constantly use to help me stay organized and informed. On my Math tab, I have The Math Dude’s Quick and Dirty Tips, which are short podcasts that are designed to help listeners understand how math can be applied to their own lives.

I can see myself using Netvibes in my everyday life, which means I would use it in my classroom. Before I show my future students about this tool, I will have to check out other tools that allow their users to create startpages. One of the ways I can see my students using this tool is by having one of their tabs being one specifically for my class. They can add our classroom blog and other tools that are relevant to math, such as the calculator and a tool to graph functions. Check back later for updates on how Netvibes compares to other startpage tools!netvibes-logo

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Welcome

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This marks the beginning of a new adventure into technology… using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. I am a graduate student finishing my MS in Teacher Education, and I will be teaching math at Hardin Valley Academy starting in August. I cannot wait to use the tools I have learned in 486 and will learn in this class to help my students see the practicality of mathematics in their own lives. Students live in a world where technology is dominant, so it only seems logical that teachers should use technology in their instruction to relate to the students. Plus, there are so many amazing things that wecan now access that were never possible before! I want this blog to be the start of a networking tool so that I can communicate with other educators about ways they are using technology to reach students in today’s time. Wish me luck!