On a professional listserv, a question was raised about book raps using Web 2.0 technology rather than the traditional email listserv…
Some of this is covered in previous blog entries here, but here’s a summary I prepared:
The School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit (NSW DET) trialled the use of Edublogs this year. We re-ran a previous book rap – on Mem Fox’s Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge – in Term One for Stage 1 students, using a blog format to set out the rap points and discussion, and it was excellent! (Just be careful choosing your “theme” or “template” because not all “posts” and “pages” permit people to “comment”. It can be a tricky combination between setting your preferences and simply choosing the best “theme” for the job.)
We had schools all over in Australia in that, and even one from Vietnam.
In Term Two, we ran an Identity: Sharing our Stories rap for Stage 3 and 4, and this focused on Aboriginal perspectives. Again, the blog format was very efficient.
Both raps have also featured a Gallery of artwork. For “Wilfrid”, I – as a coordinator – set up a wiki page of “bonus” activities (with PB Wiki) and these also were well received. A worthy experiment, and I can’t see us going back to clunky listservs. I’m not sure that a wiki would be as efficient if used for the blog proper. It seems to be that schools could accidentally interfere with the layout too much on a wiki.
The disadvantages of a listserv format are that: only subscribers get to share in the rap; you can’t edit inappropriate material once it’s been sent out by the server; late starters to the rap miss all the previous work (unless the list owner resends it all); and if you wish to preserve the rap’s content (as NSW DET have done on the Departmental website) you have to set up an online archive.
The good thing about Edublogs (over regular WordPress and Blogger) is that it’s possible to upload from a NSW DET computer. Further, School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit put in requests to ensure that our rap blog pages would be accessible under the appropriate student passwords (so they could view the previous comments), even though responses are still made by a group of students working with a teacher. At my school, we also promoted the rap blog URLs in our newsletter, and many students reported showing their class’s work to parents from home!
We’ve also been able to have the Teacher questions visible to all. Previously these were on a private Teacher listserv, and only visible to teacher subscribers, but many great ideas and shortcuts/success where never seen again beyond that rap.
I’m not aware that NSW DET has *any* fully-supported, freely-accessible “internal software” for students communicating with other groups of students. Yet. Certain schools have trialled various things over the years, such as Stu Hasic’s Eduweb(?), but as far as I know that operates within certain schools on their intranets only, and can’t go beyond each school, let alone other NSW or interstate schools.