e-moderating course: collaborative tools

Tonight I’ve taken part in a live chat within the Moodle chatroom to discuss the pros and cons of four collaborative online tools:

Blogs, wikis, Google Docs and e-portfolios.

Having used Blogs and wikis it’s been interesting to discuss what others thought of these tools. Wikis seemed to come out as a favourite and this is a tool that we’ve used a few times on the course already. We used it in week one to complete the sentence ender: I’m feeling…… which created a simple document with our feelings at the beginning of the course. It’s really nice to go back to that three weeks later now that I know the people a little more and remember how similar we all felt back then. We also used it in week one to work in two groups to outline what netiquette rules we thought were especially important, so even in week one we were exploring how this tool can be used for different tasks.

In week two we again used the wiki function twice. Firstly, it was used as a simple organisational tool to book 1-2-1 tutorials with the moderator. Secondly, we each had a wiki page with a simple grid where we were asked to give examples of activities that exemplify six approaches to online learning. These six approaches were: constructivism, resource based learning, collaborative learning, problem-based learning, narrative based learning and situated learning. Part of the task was to read others contributions and to comment, and here I felt that the cons of wikis were evident. Firstly, when I wanted to comment on one page this was already being accessed by another user and that immediacy of what I wanted to say was lost. Secondly, as there was no email reminder or update shown on the wiki it was unknown when something new had been added – either to my own page or to a comment on someone else’s page.

I had never used Google Docs as a collaborative tool before, so once we finished the chat in Moodle we all headed over to the document I’d created to experience what that was like. I have to say, I’m not sure if it was my netbook that was slow but i found it a bit clunky. Three of us found the chat facility in the top right corner, but when this was open the document itself was so small it was unusable. One person was unable to find the chat facility at all, I tried to paste in a print screen to show her but it wouldn’t let me. Working in the document itself was surprisingly easier on the iPad than on my netbook, I could see the document full screen and editing it was easier. it has meant that we’ve completed a section of the task together and then we divided up the rest of the task to work on separately (but on the one document) which then needs to be linked to a forum to share with the other group. I’m not sure what the benefits of Google Docs over ietherpad is?

I have no experience of e-portfolios at all, and have to say apart from using one rather than a paper portfolio for the CELTA I am a little lost as to the benefits. If we were to go this route there would have to be a lot of technical support for trainees and ensure that there was no chance of work being lost.

So I’m now over half way through the course. It’s been really interesting tonight having a live chat with my peers. Within in the group I was highlighted as the group leader and charged with organising the discussion and ensuring everything is done by the deadline. After an inital ‘eek’ I can say it’s not been a bad role. Organising a time seemed fairly straightforward (again using a wiki, but with a mix of email for reminders) and chat in Moodle is basic but functional. Everyone has agreed to complete their part tomorrow so that leaves me to upload to Moodle on Friday.

One thing that I’ve taken away from this week so far is to think more about how I organise the wiki pages on my CELTA course. Having one main page with all the other pages linking from it seems a sensible way forward, and I just need to figure out how using the groups function with this would work.


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