Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wiki kinks, homework rates, & learning curves

My sophomores got their first real taste of the wiki this week, and the results were mixed. First of all, I changed things up on them and required that they post their homework on the wiki, instead of the classroom blog, where we've done it since November. That didn't happen so much. About 15% of the students actually did the homework. Gulp. Now what?

I took a deep breath. This isn't the first time kids have skipped homework or failed to keep up with the reading. We as teachers can't expect the new technology or tools to replace our own pedagogy. I have always viewed homework as somewhat of a reflection of how I approach my instruction and overall planning. If the students find value in it, they'll do it. It's up to me to give their work value by responding to it, giving them opportunities to share it in class, and by showing them how and why it fits into the learning. That's where the wiki can help.

An interesting hesitation the kids had, they told me, was their unease at just putting their homework thoughts on their group's wiki page, especially if someone else had already posted. It was like they were infringing on someone else's space. There was no heading or anything for them to easily identify the spot where it should go. I didn't put one there. And the more I think about it, I think it works out better to leave it a little open-ended. I want them in control of their own space and where their thoughts fit into it.

Once we went over the ins and outs of the wiki, many of them felt a little more comfortable. I showed them around the site. It's a learning curve, I told them. Their response? - "So do we get to work on the laptops today?"

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