RESTON, VA – Every day, more teachers discover that using technology can stimulate students’ thinking and help them grasp complicated subjects. One of the most flexible and capable tools is the wiki, a technology that makes it easy to create online multimedia collaborations among teachers and students. (The wiki best known to the general public is probably Wikipedia, the encyclopedia created by user input, but wikis are used for many other purposes.)

On July 28 and 30, a two-part online event will help teachers learn how to create and use wikis in their classrooms. The “Guided Wiki Walk” will be an interactive exploration of existing educational wikis, along with hands-on practice in making customized wikis for participants’ own classes. The Wiki Walk is the next in the OK2Ask series of professional development “snack sessions” provided at no cost to teachers by nonprofit TeachersFirst.com. See an FAQ for OK2Ask at http://www.teachersfirst.com/ok2ask.cfm.

The Wiki Walk will happen in two parts so teachers can use the intervening time to practice their wiki skills. Information on the Wiki Walk and other OK2Ask events is available—in a wiki, of course—at http://teachersfirst.wikispaces.com/OK2Ask. Because attendance at the “live” sessions is limited by technical considerations, teachers who do not participate live can view recorded versions of the sessions, available from the same web page shortly after the conclusion of each live event.

Innovative example 

A number of teachers are already taking advantage of wikis’ power and ease of use. One example: Louise Maine is a high school biology teacher who has made a novel wiki the hub for her classes. Like a standard web page, it contains administrative, scheduling, and resource information, but there’s much more. On http://mrsmaineswiki.wikispaces.com/Cells Ms. Maine has created “Cell-vivor,” a game based on the TV reality show. In the game, students advocate for one portion of a cell’s structure, each using a video recording to present reasons why his or her part is so important it shouldn’t be “voted off the island.” The result is an involving, intriguing way to learn the basics of cell biology. Ms. Maine will lend her experience to the OK2Ask session as co-moderator. 

It IS okay to ask

The OK2Ask series of professional development sessions comes from www.TeachersFirst.com, one of the web’s leading sites for teachers. At no charge, TeachersFirst provides thousands of professionally reviewed resources for K-12 use.

Candace Hackett Shively manages TeachersFirst and created the OK2Ask series. She said, “Wikis are a fabulous learning tool—students just dive in and collaborate, and it’s exciting for teachers to see them grasp concepts more fully than they would otherwise. They also take real ownership in making the best possible products. One of the purposes of TeachersFirst is to advance the thoughtful, practical application of technology in support of student-centered learning. That’s why we created OK2Ask: it’s an interactive, collaborative experience that allows teachers to share their knowledge with each other and make new discoveries together. I think the Guided Wiki Walk will be another lively demonstration of the power of collaborative learning.”

TeachersFirst is a service of The Source for Learning (www.sourceforlearning.org), a not-for-profit corporation providing enhanced learning through technology. The Source for Learning is also the creator of www.PreschoolFirst.com, www.TeachersAndFamilies.com, and the upcoming www.GrowUpLearning.com, slated to launch later in 2009.

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