Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Move over Post-Its, Bring on Wallwisher

One of my happy discoveries recently has been Wallwisher - a nifty little Web 2 app that can be useful to adults and students. I first heard about it from Nik Peachey when he shared his wall of useful Web 2 tools for teachers. This wall is worth a visit for the content on it, even if you are not interested in wallwisher. I discovered it the week after our unconference, #may09 in Auckland, and immediately wished I'd known about it then.
We had put a bit of structure around the unconference by giving everyone Post-its to jot ideas down on and then we attempted to sort them. We did get there in the end but we had Post-its all over the floor at one stage!

The next PD session I did with staff in the week following that experience I gave away the Post-its idea because I had discovered wallwisher. Instead everyone sat at their laptops and clicked away on the wall I had built adding their thoughts to the brainstorm. We had a very short space of time in which to organise a large event for our combined schools' staff and using this method we managed to come to a concensus and get planned very quickly. We had 17 people contributing at once and it handled that number fine. The owner of the page could start organising the 'stickies' as people uploaded them and everyone else could hit 'refresh' at any time on their own browser to keep up with the ideas other people were contributing.
But I also see times when it could be great with kids. One of the things we are working on in literacy is expanding the sentences our students write. I sat in on a PD session with Jannie Van Hees who gets kids in groups to work on sheets of paper to take a basic sentence and expand it by adding to the beginning, then the end and finally 'exploding' it in the middle. We thought that our kids would enjoy each group gathering around a computer and adding their contributions to a wall, as a different way of doing this.
Caution: These walls are either 'all on' (anyone can contribute) or 'all off' (only the owner can post). To use them with students particularly you would have to use the RSS feed from it and monitor it carefully as anyone can post on it.

Thanks to Fiona Grant for the photo from the unconference.