This is my primary means of teaching how to collaborate online. I post the directions, so they have hot links. I create Forums for the students to collaborate. They post what they learn or write for comments by the class. EXAMPLE: My class all write letters and send emails to their representatives in Washington. This year, I had them use the ning to share what they learned about their Senator’s position on various topics. Each topic was in a separate Forum that I had created ahead of time. They researched and read what other classmates had written. They added their new facts. Using the information on the ning, they wrote rough drafts of their letters and posted them for comments. Each student needed to edit 2 other letters. They then rewrote, posted on the ning, emailed the Senator and sent a hard copy, and wait for a response. I have done this activity for many years with each girl individually writing and sending her letter. The quality of this year’s letters was far above the previous year’s. There was an understanding of each issue that had not happened before.
A great site for gathering information and sharing ideas. It is like a giant board that you can attach Post-It notes to. The notes can have words, URLs or pictures. The notes can then be moved around to develop categories. It is a public site, so you simply create the Wallwisher and send each student the address. I have used this to brainstorm prior knowledge and to then track new information that they discover during research.
This is very much like Facebook. It is a place for online dialogue that also allows you to add assignments, videos, a calendar, etc. My students really liked the similarity to Facebook, which made them write more, at least initially. This is an education site, so you sign up as a teacher and are then sent a class code that the students use when they sign up. It it s closed conversation between you and them.