Teaching wikis, blogs, RSS, and social bookmarking

I want to pass on a great resource for instructors who need to explain wikis, blogs, RSS, Google Docs, social bookmarking and other such tools to their students. Common Craft have created some of the most effective, to-the-point, and entertaining instructional videos I’ve ever seen; many of the topics they address in their unique, short videos fall squarely under the ed tech category:

All of these tools are easy to use but, admittedly, can be hard to describe. Common Craft completely demystifies them. Have a look:

to spam or not to spam

Nicole from rivendell.pressresults.com left a comment about whether I was still happy with Zoho Wiki.  My spamdar went off when a website check revealed the PR/Marketing focus of the company, forcing me to decide not to approve the comment.  However, the non cynical side of me is telling me that I’m overreacting (my sincere apologies, Nicole, if that’s the case), therefore I’ve decided to compromise and acknowledge the question–I’m very happy with Zoho Wiki, and will be posting about it again as a useful tool for instructors who want to create quick and easy course webpages.

There…I feel much better.


E-portfolios are a hot topic in education right now, and UBC’s OLT has been doing a great job of piloting them in various faculties across campus.

I’ve tried to integrate portfolios within WebCT using the presentation tool, but this invariably leads to some confusion by students and instructors, since the process for using this tool is not as simple as it could be. I’ve thought about having students use blogs, but, like the presentation tool in WebCT, the students can’t really walk away from UBC with their portfolio unless they eventually find a host for it.

Brian Lamb’s blog pointed me to TiddlyWiki–a “a reusable non-linear personal web notebook”–which I think could be very useful as a portfolio tool in some courses. For example, one of the courses we are developing for the online Dental Hygiene Program is being built with a very student-directed approach that requires students to develop their own project plans, produce project reports and documents, journal their activities, and track and write critiques of relevant research. Essentially, we are asking students to create a course portfolio of their work, which can be viewed by their instructor/mentor when needed as well as their group members, who have a role in commenting and monitoring the progress of the other group members over the period of the course, with the idea that they will be a supportive community. We anticipated using the WebCT course shell as a way of providing resources and as a way of communicating with other members of the course through the discussion forums.

Some of the features of the TiddlyWiki that I see useful in this case are:

-it can be edited easily when needed, but only by the ‘owner’
-it is portable (eg. saved onto a USB stick), and doesn’t need to be hosted
-it can be emailed, or posted as an attachment to a discussion forum posting
-it can be expanded–the user can add different headings, subheading, categories
-it can be put on the web if desired
-it is really simple to learn how to use

Here’s a quick example of how I would structure the TiddlyWiki template for this course. (Note: it doesn’t seem to work in Explorer, even though it’s supposed to!)