Nursing a vague headache yesterday, I found myself eagerly agreeing to do a quick overview of wikis for the teachers at this afternoon’s staff meeting.
On Friday, I’d boasted joyfully how quickly the wiki (short for“wiki wiki”; Hawaiian for “quick”) page I made for a Stage 1 class had come together. Ten minutes, I reckon! They’d written a jointly-constructed recount about last Monday’s in-school Chinese New Year celebrations – and even I was surprised how easy it was to pick up their Word document, add a photo image, upload the information and do a print out. Over the weekend, I even adjusted a few more images, and uploaded them, for the Stage 1 classes to see this week during library lessons. Similarly, we all were surprised by the ease with which S1K English and I added one more word to the final draft (“mask”, to match the mask artwork now displayed) on Monday morning. And what fun this morning to see that we’d had many recent visitors… from New Zealand, country NSW, Queensland, California and Normandy – all just minutes earlier than our current visit with SIC English!
Anyway, I prepared a short spiel on Web 2.0 (eg. wikis, blogs, social networking websites, RSS feeds, etc) and made sure that our school’s customised OASIS Web enquiry page, and its hotlinks to our school website and the library wiki pages, were able to be easily accessed on the school’s laptop computer and data projector. This required, of course, a quickie revamp of the school website (which had a few annoying dead links from an unsuccessful attempt at adding the weekly school newsletter last year), changing the dates on key pages, adding hotlinks to the wiki pages at various places, and making sure the templates still worked. This, in turn, required that my library clerical and I find our hastily-written page of FTP uploading instructions which I distinctly remembered asking her to “file carefully” about two years – and a computer upgrade or two – ago.
Needless to say, my vague headache of yesterday returned to haunt me all day. Every time we tried to find a moment alone – just us and the FTP software – we’d be interrupted by a library class, a stray borrower or three, the photocopier breaking down, recess, requests for books, lesson preparation, shelving, first-half lunch duty in the library, the phone (inevitably a bookseller), or incoming introductions on the Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge book rap and/or its associated rap blog. All in a day’s work.
As I said, I’m exhausted – and by 3.15 pm I was due to commence my talk.
We got there! And I hope I was suitably enthusiastic. However, I’m still rather concerned I didn’t “sell” the idea of the wiki well enough. Several staff members reserved their judgement, wondering aloud why all the wiki material can’t just be “put on the website like all other schools do” And who is ultimately responsible for a school’s web presence? And what parts of a school newsletter should be for public consumption via the World Wide Web? Good questions!
I tried to convey that writing website pages with HTML code (I really don’t know FrontPage or Dreamweaver well enough to use them with students, and I feel one needs an inservice course to use them efficiently) and then uploading the files with FTP (and using the secret password) really is rather dry. And that using wikis and blogs are far more interactive, creative and stimulating for students – and quick enough to get great results in just one lesson. But I’m not sure I convinced enough people.
Several teachers, however, seemed quite excited by the possibilities of being able to launch up colourful, online scrapbooks of texts and images for sharing on home computers. So… we’ll see what happens…
Early days, yet. Still.