Not too long ago I posted an entry about the increasing discussion in our overly large school district about the instructional use of blogs and other web 2.0 tools.
What I didn’t mention was that at least a few people running our IT department have been listening.
Just before the winter break we found out they are planning to install tools for creating blogs and wikis for teachers to use.
The downside is they are modules for use in Blackboard, our over-priced and less than ideal “solution” for posting class web sites.
It could be, except for two factors in the particular set of walls being purchased by our system.
For one thing, by default the blog or wiki a teacher creates using these tools can only be seen by his or her students, which limits the conversation to the same audience as any other classroom activity.
We are told that the teacher can elect to open the discussion to anyone in our Blackboard system. That has the potential to expand the audience somewhat and the usefulness. However, it still doesn’t fix the other huge problem.
These tools have the capability for an RSS feed but our IT folks are not going to turn it on. They really don’t like RSS. Something about security and/or bandwidth, depending on who you ask.
And then there’s Blackboard. All of this is still part of that clunky interface.
So, we’re getting some tools, albeit somewhat crippled, that teachers can use to explore the instructional uses of blogs and wikis.
But will we be teaching them how to use blogging software or how to use them to communicate?
I’m still optimistic it’s the later. Although, I doubt these steps will do anything to help them catch up in this area to many of their students.