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.)


dkzody said...

Take a look at Google docs. That may be the way to go. I'm just getting started with a .mac account that I've been told can work in a similar way. I have my first lesson next Saturday on how to do this. Bravo to you for trying new things.

Tom said...

Look, we all know that there is nothing in that room of yours that can generate the 1.21 gigawatts necessary to get the flux capacitor to do its job. I'm sorry.

In all seriousness ... I'm sure something on SCORE can get you started.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, this cracked my shit up earlier.

Ian H. said...

You might want to look at an Elgg setup - part social network, part blog, part wiki. They are supposed to be going gold this summer, so it might be a good time to try.

Also, if you are at all familiar with Wordpress, they have a new project called BuddyPress which looks somewhat similar to Elgg, but without the wiki feature... easier to setup, though, unless Elgg has updated their setup process immensely...

dan said...

I know this is a little late to start with the new school year, but Ning allows you to set up a community of users. Each student can have a blog where they can embed videos, etc. is a great Ning for teachers wanting to use Ning.