Class Collaboration

TodaysMeet v. AnswerGarden

This term we’ve tried two different type of collaboration websites.

I used to be a big fan of Dabbleboard  but when it folded I didn’t look for an alternative. I’m not sure why because I loved the whole share-for-all that could take place.

Recently I was pointed towards TodaysMeet and then stumbled onto AnswerGarden so I thought I give them both a go.

We used TodaysMeet when we were listening to a piece of classic music. The children had iPods, iPads and computers available and worked either independently or in pairs.

The website is really easy to use and I liked the fact that you could set the room to disappear after you had finished using it.

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Once you create your room you share the link with the children and they are able to sign in and join the conversation.

They can add as many comments as they want – comments are limited to 140 characters.

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The only problems we encountered were a couple of MacBooks that wouldn’t load the site – later I realised I hadn’t added the proxy settings to https – once I did they were fine.

It worked perfectly on the iPads.

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The music session worked well, better than I had anticipated – all the children were engaged and they collated a powerful set of words and phrases inspired by the music we were listening to. They were all engaged and on task.

Everyone made contributions, and those sharing hardware didn’t have any problems taking turns to type.

At the end I was able to generate a transcript – this gave me the whole conversation and told me what each group had contributed during the session.

I also took their contributions and dropped them into a Wordle. This worked well, but was time consuming because there was a lot of information (time/date/name) to delete first

AnswerGarden describes itself as a ‘digital scribble space’.

First you create a ‘Garden’ by asking a question.

In class we’ve been looking at the letters of St Paul so today as part of an RE lesson I asked ‘What would St Paul say to us today?’

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You can then choose the mode that you want to work in.

Classroom Mode was the one I tried today – pupils can submit as many answers as they want.

Once the room is created you share the link with the pupils and they all see the question.

As they type their answers they appear in a word cloud beneath the answer box.

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Answers are limited to 20 characters.

I thought this might cause a problem but as we were only collecting words and phrases it worked well. It also made the children think carefully about their choice of words.
It even prompted a discussion about synonyms.

Unlike TodaysMeet you can’t see who has submitted an answer. The words populate a WordCloud below the question.

Users can’t repeat the same answer themselves but if they submit the same word or phrase as someone else the text increases in size (just like Wordle).

There are lots of things you can do when you have finished. These include turning your final cloud into a QR code and exporting the data into Wordle.

The main downside to AnswerGarden was that in Classroom mode I couldn’t edit the text although I have a feeling if I had created a moderated garden this would have been possible.

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And the final verdict?

AnswerGarden had the best export features – I loved the fact that it just worked seamlessly with Wordle.

TodaysMeet provided me with an excellent overview of pupils’ ideas – I could see what each pair had decided and save the transcript to read at leisure.

I see myself using both in different ways – I’ll be interested to see if the children choose to use them independently over the next few weeks.

The Wonder of Wunderlist

wunderlistI like lists.
I really like Wunderlist.

In the old days I used to write them in the many many notebooks that I used to buy.

That must be a family thing because when I visited my sister recently she had a huge pile of pristine beautiful stationery stacked neatly in her spare room.

I’ve tried lots of different list apps. In the pre-app era I used to use tada lists a lot.

I liked Astrid and dabbled with various other apps before finding and sticking with Wunderlist.

Everything about it is neat and well ordered. You can make lists within lists, share lists, set reminders and even add lists to an inbox to prioritise them.

You can use it on your phone, macbook and iPad and it synchronises seamlessly.

For a while I’ve been thinking about how to use Wunderlist in the classroom and after a few trials and errors I’ve come up with a way that worked well for me.

I have my account set up on my iPad/iPhone/Mac and then have a different account set up on the pupil iPads.

I then create a list on my Wunderlist account.

Useful lists have been success criteria for a lesson, steps needed to complete a task and a set of challenges that need completing.

I then share this list with the pupil account – as soon as it is accepted it appears on all the pupil iPads.

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You can use this in a number of ways

  • One list for everyone – in this instance ask the pupils not to tick the boxes but use the list as a reference point
  • Individual names lists for groups or pupils – they can then tick off the list items as they achieve them.
  • Or you could do it the other way around where pupils compile as list as they work through a task and then at they end they share it with you.

Of course, if you don’t want to use Wunderlist yourself you only need one account to do this but I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to use it for yourself.