Thursday, October 16, 2008

Communities of Practice Ning Mindtool Reflection

The mindtool I created was an online community of practice at This Community of Practice was created in order for teachers to share ideas about current reading practices and seek out new strategies to try in the classroom.

This software functions as a mindtool because it provides teachers with a way to share ideas, discuss current practices and develop new instructional strategies after critique and reflection. The ning allows teachers to have electronic conversations using discussion boards and join groups around topics of interest. Teachers can also create new groups, add online content, and upload work samples, etc.

Due to the nature of this mindtool, I am using a rubric to assess the quality of the website content. I feel that this will authentically tell me if the mindtool is being used and how it is being used effectively.

I am very excited about where this mindtool can go. As I developed some of the content, I tried to use examples of different kinds of content that teachers could add. One person had a very good suggestion for adding grade level groups as more and more content is added. I think this would be great and then teachers can not only search for general reading tools, they can share ideas specific for their grade. I think another way to look at this would be to add additional groups for people that may want to work on inter-grade projects.

I enjoyed learning about other people's mindtools as well. I learned a lot about voicethread and plan on adding it to my content. I think I will first have my students do a sample, embed it on the ning and then let teachers see real student work. Wouldn't it be great if a student went back and said, "You have to get on the reading ning so that I can share my writing project with the class." In this fashion, the link to the ning would be needed in order for the teacher to discover voicethread and look at the student's work.

I have nothing but high expectations for this mindtool. I cannot wait to see where it takes us...


westendblog said...
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westendblog said...

There are a lot of important resources on Ning. However, my exploration yielded material that might have only marginal value in an educational context.

Why would this specific venue be superior for educators? Should there be restrictions on use by students but not by educators?

As always, I reviewed the terms of service and privacy policies. Can educators receive royalties from the sale of Ning breakfast cereal? If so or if not, should a branded service be used in the context of educational institutions?

Sorry to be a pain, but take a look at the taxpayer and his or her investment in schools. With all of the established infrastructure that exists within your district, why should teachers, let alone students, adopt this advertising based platform?

To use an analogy, as I do many more times than needed, consider a turkey baking in the oven. Why not place a pie on the upper shelf of the hot oven, while the poultry is roasting?

This is what "puters" do for productivity.

So, "da building" has everything needed already installed, and this content is pre-sanitized. May I ask, why Ning, especially since there is apparently no Nang?

Megan Fritz said...

westendblog.....Let's look at the tool from an educational standpoint. You must not have been looking in the correct place. What this person has done is create her own space (in the beginning stages) for her users to go to collaborate, share, reflect, and find meaningful materials for their teaching. That is why it's superior. You raise good questions but I believe that the educational benefits far out-weigh the negative aspect to having an advertising based platform. There is no other tool available to this user so it's definitely the best one for the job.
Dr. Fritz :)

Susan Martin said...

I think that you need to understand the concept of teacher time. The time teachers have to actually meet face to face and share ideas is minimal. As an adult educator, I do not think that you are aware that teachers seldom have time to share lesson ideas like adults. Adults can have a meeting and discuss new ways to teach or lessons they have come across. An elementary school teacher cannot leave their students alone so that they can spend time talking teaching strategy with other teachers and group planning time is very slim. They can, however, use an online resource to share ideas at their convenience. I think this tool is an excellent resource for teachers.

Frankly, I am quite offended by your claim that this is a waste of taxpayer money when the resource is free and it will most likely be used by teachers from home since there is little time in the instructional day to search for new instructional techniques and use a tool such as this one.

I have never commented that this resource would be appropriate for an elementary student to use.

westendblog said...

I did not say that using a free tool is a waste of money. I meant that there are systems in place. I realize that the existing systems may not be adaptable to every use.

In terms of advertising impressions in school, I really do not know what can be done about this. The digital natives are exposed to marketing everywhere, and I feel that the educational context is particularly valuable space.

Please think about industrial arts class. Suppose that all the tools furnished for use in the district are Craftsman brand. These are fine tools, certainly. Would anyone disagree were I to observe that students in the district are more likely to shop at Sears?

I do understand that your application of this is a resource for teachers and not students. I think that this issue is something that educators need to consider for themselves and for their students. After all, teachers are consumers too.

I did not realize that this is the only tool available for this type of collaboration. That is why I had asked, why this space specifically?

Perhaps I am a cynic, but "wonderful" does not come to my mind often, anywhere.

westendblog said...

The users of free tools are not clients.

Use of the tool expressly grants the clients of the tool developer access to the user, the user's content and the user's community.

This access is used to compile information about preferences, among other things. There is a discipline, predictive analytics, which considers the material gleaned in this manner.

There is much more going on here than logos inside banner ads. In fact, Google is a leading provider of marketing information.

I hope that this helps. My apologies for scarring your blog with my failed attempt at humor.