Final Assignment

Connected SMART Teachers

As part of ECI831 and keeping in line with my current professional focus, I wanted to put together a wiki as part of my final project that provided teachers with resource information on SMART interactive technology. As part of this resource I wanted to include information on how teachers utilizing this technology can connect with other educators and leaders in this area to build upon their existing professional network. This wiki will be promoted through my professional development sessions within the province as a springboard for collaboration and networking in this area.

Would love some feed back! Please check out my Sask SMART Teachers wiki and let me know what you think!

http://sasksmartteachers.wikispaces.com/

The History

The idea for this project began almost as soon as I begin my new educational role. I had always wanted to put my PD resources in one location that was easy to access and provided educators with an opportunity to get in touch with me. I had previously explored the use of wiki’s when accessing them during various PD sessions I had personally attended. However, time was always a factor and it aways seemed to be placed on the back-burner.

It wasn’t until recently and this class, that I began to explore the importance of creating an on-line community.  I began to recognize the value in educators being able to network with others outside of the traditional “staff room”.  The more teachers I spoke with through my own professional travels, the more I realized that currently there were very few ways to connect with other teachers in our province using SMART. Thus, I saw this as an opportunity to finally tie in my goal of creating a resource area with the added benefit of trying to start to build an on-line SMART community in Sask.

The Development

I began the process of creating this wiki by looking at some pre-existing resource sites. Some were random sites I had come across, while others were posted by members of my Twitter community.

A few of my exemplars:

Elementary Teachers Leading and Learning (provided by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach)

Educational Wiki’s – a variety of wiki’s with educational purposes

The Connected Classroom – A great wiki focusing on how to get started

Social Networking for Teachers – Wiki focussed on supporting teachers in the areas of social networking

There were also some great articles and materials to support my project goals:

The Wiki as a Knowledge Repository

Best Practices for Getting others to Contribute to your Wiki

Wiki Pedagogy – A Tale of Two Wiki’s 

Using Wiki’s for On-Line Collaboration

I also contacted SMART’s lead educational consultants for support and suggestions. There information, though valuable was not necessarily geared towards our Saskatchewan market.

The Findings

There were several important findings through the initial stages of research that helped guide the development of this project.
  
First it was important to establish a purpose for the wiki. To make it relevant to the audience I was trying to reach.
 
 Next I needed to identify the goals of the wiki and provide that information to the intended audience. With the hope that clear goals will guide users to fulfill the intended purpose of the wiki.

I also needed to consider providing information such as resources in a logical way with clear navigation. This would hopefully encourage teachers to visit the site thanks to ease of use and find value in the given materials.

I also needed to promote a collaborative process within the wiki. Offering the opportunity for teachers to mould and direct the flow of discussion.

The Results

After time to reflect on the various considerations and information I had gathered I began to put together the resource wiki. Once the shell was in place I put it out to several colleagues and of course my Twitter PLN to offer up some suggestions. I received some wonderful feedback but also some relevant questions were posed. One in particular focussed on how I would promote the collaboration portion of the site. To be honest, this is still a tough question to answer. Many of the exemplar wikis I looked at seemed to suffer the same problem. Teachers were not necessarily using the discussion board provided. Encouraging teachers to respond, connect and discuss in a new environment will certainly pose its challenges. I think it will be important as the moderator for the site to use this wiki during my PD sessions, direct teachers to collaborate with me on there and hopefully facilitate this are with questions to get teachers thinking. I think the answer to this may only come over a period of time and once it has fully reached the target audience.

For the Future

I am anticipating launching this site as part of my PD offerings in January. I’d like to include it with my quarterly newsletter and offer it as a resource to the school divisions I am currently working with. Based on user feedback, there may be modifications needed or a new mode of networking teachers required. An investigation into the use of Facebook groups may also be necessary as it seems to be a bit more familiar and already has an existing user base within our province.

I look forward to monitoring the sites usage and gathering user feedback from various PD sessions in the future.

4 responses to “Final Assignment

  1. Iain

    Looks great. If you’re able to maintain a clean interface which is easily navigable you are in a good spot. In my experience wikis works when people see value (what’s in it for me) but also relevance in the wiki itself. Key questions :
    How do you make it comfortable fo people to post in a wiki?
    How do you build interest?

    Thanks for sharing your assignment. I’m sure the final product will be great.

    Iain (Robertson)

    • T.Shynkaruk

      Thanks for checking things out! Yes one of my biggest fears was the building of interest. I am hoping that through the PD sessions I provide and the speaking engagements I am involved with the message will begin to spread. Any other suggestions on this?

      As for being comfortable…. hmmm also a tough one as I know when I began this journey I was simply a “lurker” and didn’t contribute as often as I should. Perhaps this is will be something I can monitor through group discussion?

      Again, appreciate the feedback!

  2. The wiki looked great – lots of great resources to get people started. It will be interesting to see how many posts start coming in and where they come from. Would you be allowed to set up a group within the Smart Exchange? That might be another way for people to connect to each other? Not sure if you already have one there? I like the breakdown of topics on the side – would it be too busy if there was a breakdown for primary/middle/high school? Or should people just post what they have under titles within those sections? Just some random thoughts – it will be interesting to see what happens! Good Luck!

    • T.Shynkaruk

      Thanks for taking a peek! I like the suggestions of breaking down by classes and can see that be very useful in the resource section! Currently we do not have a Sask. user group listed on the SMART Exchange but I ohave made the request so we shall see what happens! Fingers crossed!

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