Blogs and Wikis

Blogs and Wikis


Welcome to our introduction of blogs and wikis. The purpose of this video is to discuss the
role of blogs and wikis in improving reading performance and learning for students with
disabilities and others who struggle. Innovations in computer technology in the
last 20 years have changed the way most people live, work, shop, and communicate. Education has changed, too. Now students can
upload assignments to a class website, email questions to their teachers, and work on assignments
with distant peers using instant messaging, online discussion forums, and wikis. Writing online, through blogs, wikis, or discussion
forums, can boost student motivation for writing, and help them learn to adapt writing for different
audiences, tasks, purposes, and disciplines. Depending on how blogs and wikis are used
in the classroom, they can have a number of benefits for all students, especially struggling
writers and students with disabilities.  The use of classroom blogs and wikis can have
social and educational implications for students with disabilities and struggling students.
Nearly universal access to mobile and wireless technologies mean that today’s students regularly
email, IM (instant message), participate in chat rooms, and post to blogs and social networking
sites as a means of communication and social interaction. Harness these technologies to
help boost your students’ writing skills! How is writing a page for Wikipedia different
from writing a personal blog? These writing skills, and learning to use media in a variety
of situations, are critical parts of helping your students meet the CCSS College and Career
Readiness Standards for Writing and Speaking and Listening. Blogs can serve as a medium for recording
thoughts and impressions on a particular topic. Blogs are mostly free and easy to create,
so you can have a blog set up and running in minutes. Several websites offer educational packages
to allow you to create individual student blogs, giving the teacher complete control
over content. This ensures that blogs don’t become places for inappropriate comments and
bullying. If your classroom blog will feature student writing and discussion, you may want
to consider using blogging tools geared towards student and classroom use. Wikis
A wiki is an online software tool that allows multiple users to collaborate and generate
web content, typically for reference purposes. The most well-known example of a wiki is Wikipedia, but there are many uses for wikis in the classroom
setting. Classroom wikis are often used for collaborative
writing projects and group projects. Because all changes are tracked to specific users,
this is a great way for a teacher to see how much each student has contributed. Consider using sites such as Wikipedia to
launch discussions on the dangers of completely open collaborative networks. Can students
find incorrect or misleading information on a Wikipedia page? How does the community respond
to these types of issues? What are the benefits and drawbacks of open collaboration? Students who struggle with organization
Post assignments, notes, handouts and reminders on your classroom blog or wiki so that ALL
your students can access the material if needed.  A common difficulty for students with Learning
Disabilities or ADHD is misplacing or forgetting schoolwork – your class blog or wiki can
provide a central location for students to locate important information and can help
with organization. If you have students who struggle with memory
or processing information, an option is to make video lectures, slideshows and other
relevant materials available so students can review multiple times if needed.  Have students create their own wiki entries,
videos, or slideshows on various topics. These resources then become part of a library that
your students can access for extra help or explanations. Students with dyslexia or other learning difficulties
may struggle to find the right words quickly in high-pressure situations, for example,
being called on in class discussions.  Online discussions can allow students to think
carefully about their answer and post when they are ready, improving the quality of discussion
and participation. If you have Students who struggle with writing
production, there are several strategies that might make sense: First, Allow students to respond to writing
prompts via the classroom blog or on a wiki page. This can be especially beneficial for
those students who struggle to produce significant writing in-class.  Responding online can allow students who struggle
with handwriting to make use to speech-to-text or word prediction software to aid them in
their writing. Writing on a classroom wiki can also be a
great way of encouraging your students to write and edit collaboratively.  And Personal narratives and storytelling tend
to be high-interest and can help motivate reluctant writers.  Finally, As educators introduce blogs, wikis,
e-mail, and other current digital communication strategies, they should be explicit about
the difference between the formal language required for written communications and the
less formal language frequently used in blogs, e-mails and text messaging. Educators may
want to set expectations for correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure
for specific assignments while setting relaxed expectations for others.

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