Friday, May 16, 2008

What would a time-traveler use to keep a journal?

I'm one of those crazy history teachers who likes to use creative writing assignments. They're a good assessment on a variety of levels and they give me a chance to help students develop historical perspective.

Throughout the year my students have written postcards from the New World, made "phone calls" from war-torn nations, written letters to the editor on whether the US should participate in World War 2 (in June 1941) and created "monuments" to imperialism. I like these assignments, but as I'm thinking about next year, there's some changes I want to make.

The first change is the obvious update--can we find ways to incorporate 21st century tech in these? (Yes) More importantly, I'm rethinking my class "notebook" and I want to create a more organized, unified system of assignments. I want to be able to tell my students, after appropriate introductions to "how we do things" to add an entry to their "time-traveler's journal" about this and then let them loose to create.

So, I'm asking, how do I set this up? What tools & tricks can you recommend to make this work? What online tools would work well for submitting assignments? (Class blog, forum, wiki, something completely different?) I especially want it to be flexible enough to include more than just text, centralized enough that they'll see and respond to each other, and easy to use. (I know, I don't want much at all.)