I have tried several different sites for collaboration between students this year.
The most interesting part to me has been the reaction by my students. We are collaborating with a classroom from San Jacinto, California (we are in Bay City, Michigan). Many of my students have loved it and a few are indifferent about it. I have some students who are still technophobic, they make a big deal out of HAVING to do technology in Spanish class. The ones I am most confused by though, are the ones who are annoyed that we use many different types of technology and many different online venues. I suppose I should not assume that all students like to have an eclectic experience…
Currently I am using Collaborize Classroom. It is very easy to organize classes and create discussions and polls. Discussions and polls can be assigned to everyone or just one group very quickly. When you are finished with a discussion or poll, you close it out. The nice thing is that does not mean it is gone forever. It goes to a new folder for you to review and out of the student view. The student create their own accounts and you accept them into the class.
Another one we are trying, right now on our own, is Diigo Education. My favorite part about it immediately was adding students into separate classes without their email addresses. This site is not a discussion site. So far we have used it for research. When we are in the lab I can have the students bookmark the sites they are using. It allows me to see where they are going, and also gives some references to me and the entire class.
I have not used Diigo to it’s fullest potential yet. I would love to see how others are using it. Here is what Diigo’s site says: “Diigo is much more than a simple web annotation or social bookmarking service — it is a new kind of online research and collaborative research tool that integrates tags and folders, highlighting and clipping, sticky notes, and group-based collaboration, enabling a whole new process of online knowledge management, learning, and teaching in the information age.”
Schoology is a new one I/we are trying out. I think it will be a great discussion area because it looks and acts like Facebook. The big difference being that each assignment is a new page, so the information doesn’t disappear. Setting up was easy. I created a class and was given a code to give the students. When they put the code in, they were directed to my class to make an account.
Here is what Schoology says about their site: “With Schoology, educators can do things as simple as posting assignments, quizzes and links to additional resources or as sophisticated as conducting online courses, providing one-on-one remediation, or hosting discussions.”
My new adventure will be with Diipo. It is on my summer list of things to do. It is “social networking for your class”. It looks VERY promising.
We also have a wiki page, BCC Spanish, that we use when we go to the lab or to post their work. I have found it is easier to put all of their directions for their lab days on the wiki. It comes in very handy for those students who are absent or do not finish their work in the lab.
My final tip for using so many different sites online, is to make a document for them to save their passwords. Ours is called “My Spanish Passwords“. I have this template on our wiki page. The very first time I assign a password (which is always their textbook online), I have them open the document and type in their password. The template is a table with 3 columns. the first column is the name of the site, 2nd column for user name, 3rd column is for their password. they save this in their H-drive. Before I began doing this I would be asked incessantly for their passwords each time we went to the lab. In some cases, like for Photo Peach, we use a common password. That way all of their work is on one page to check. I made a class Google account just for this reason.