Open Thinkering


Month: February 2008

Google Sites – wikis for Google Apps users!

Google Sites

It’s taken a while, but Google have finally integrated wikis into the Google Apps suite. So far it looks as if it’s only for those who have Google Apps for Domains or Google Apps for Education, but that’s what I’m going to be using it for mainly so that’s fine.

Google bought JotSpot, an enterprise-focused wiki solution 16 months ago and, presumably, have been working since then to get it integrated. The result is simple, although some have criticised it as being too simplistic. I’m not going into huge amount of detail in this post, but suffice to say you need to login as admin to your Google Apps for Domains/Education account and enable it before it goes ‘live’. You have the option of restricting access to users within your domain or making it accessible to the wider world. 🙂
What follows are some screenshots whilst I’m getting used to the setup. I’m almost certainly going to be using this with at least one class next week!

Edit: I’ve had a bit more of a chance to play with Google Sites now and have set up a Year 11 GCSE History revision site here.

Classroom organization and its relation to pedagogy

I reorganized my classroom today. It went from this:

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to this:

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The reason? It’s temporary as I needed a cinema-like arrangement of chairs and tables for two lessons; my Year 11s are making copious notes on a rather important video on Vietnam for their coursework. The reaction of the students and, more tellingly, colleagues, said it all.

They were flabbergasted that I would countenance such an arrangement. And I suppose I can see why. Although I’m not a fan of the phrases ‘sage on stage’ as opposed to being the ‘guide on the side’ it does capture an important aspect of my pedagogical style and approach.

I think that one’s classroom organization both reflects and dictates the interactions we have with students. I felt somehow today that the students looked younger and behaved more immaturely when in rows as opposed to ‘islands’ or groups. Perhaps that was just because I allowed them to sit next to who they liked for just these lessons. I don’t know. I can’t help but feel, however, that I was more of a ‘control-freak’ and the dynamics of the classroom were fundamentally different because of the change in layout.

Perhaps changing your classroom round and mixing things up a bit is worth a try? I know I’m definitely going back to ‘islands’ ASAP! 😀