Heather Wolpert-Gawron


By on December 1, 2008

I thought I’d share a little of what I’m doing in the classroom with XWikiWorkspaces.  So, going off the frustrating fact that my district is blog-o-phobic, I was wracking my brain in how to teach internet literacy while still catering to the fact that I can’t blog beyond the boundaries of the district firewall.  

I feel the writing is on the proverbial (fire)wall: social networking, online collaboration is not only the future of education, it is for many, the present.  But my students are stunted in their literacy because the district is preparing them for the school of the past.

Enter XWikiWorkspaces.  It’s an Open Source program that will allow me to plug my laptop into a USB switch that connects to the other computers in my room: a new and totally ridiculous Dell that is only used as an expensive attendance and grading program because it can’t seem to do anything else, and a recycled eMac I pulled off a pile slated for execution.  

Anyway, it allows my laptop to act as a server within the local network.  In other words, my 7th grade students can post their essays in their “online classroom,” and my 8th grade honors class can seemingly blog comments without outside forces having access to their files.  Another class can start a wiki on a particular topic, say “The Elements of the Persuasive Essay,” and have students contribute to their own wikipedia-esque page.  In addition, any classroom on my local network, say, another teacher’s 7th grade class, can have access to reading our conversations as long as they have my IP address.

Pretty cool.  Except for one thing.  There’s this weird missionary-thing that happens when you get turned on by ed tech: You want to spread the word.  I want to convince everyone that this is do-able.  That these strategies are user-friendly.  That taking the time to add technology to your curriculum is not only necessary, but accessible to even the most tech-tentative teachers.  But for the first time, I’m a little stumped in how to communicate this program.  

I’m slated to do a session at CUE this year on setting up and using XWikiWorkspaces, but I figure my audience has some buy-in, so it’s just a matter of making it engaging.  At CUE I’m already preaching to the choir.  How do I break down this program in a way that is not intimidating to those who haven’t even entered the church?

Ah, well, fair readers.  Thanks for listening.  Let me know if you have any thoughts.

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