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I prefer teaching students to use technology in real-world ways that allow them to not just consume information, but to contribute to the digital world. Even a 2nd grader can help add to a wiki, with some guidance and help. Rather than creating a separate wiki in an isolated environment with no defined purpose other than to ‘use technology’, I hope to have students being productive global citizens in two ways this year. ((Granted, I haven’t actually tried this with them yet, but I know my intermediate students can handle this.))
The first opportunity is to help build a library at Open Book. I think students have great opportunities to share about what they are reading, and to find some great books to read in the future by reading what others write. However, the process of finding an ethical source for book covers, crediting said source, and linking to it is time consuming.
There is now a WordPress Plug-in called OpenBook Book Data that solves that dilemma. You just click on an icon within your Visual Post Editor, add the ISBN number, and voila! Image, credit, links galore. It’s amazing! I’m not sure where I would be without these kinds of tools to help me manage the abundance of information on the web.
[openbook booknumber=”ISBN:0545980259″ templatenumber=”1″]
Anyhow, back to the student part of OpenBook. OpenBook is a book information wiki that you can edit. If you create an account, you can track your changes. If not, OpenBook just tracks your IP address. No student accounts needed. This afternoon, my 3rd grade son helped me enter information about a Geronimo Stilton book he read recently that was not in the database. We had to look for the ISBN number, the author, the title, the publisher, the publishing date, and cover art via a link to Amazon. Today, he added information to a worldwide database that other students can access and use. That book data you see above? We contributed that.
I think it’s an important thing to learn that you can make a positive difference online, even when you are small.
Another opportunity to contribute to the digital world is through Project Gutenberg. I’ve used their free online e-books for years…. way back when I had a Palm Pilot. They encourage help in digitizing new books and recording audio books. I’ve been working through the initial editing process, and it’s very well thought out.
[media-credit name=”http://www.gutenberg.org” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]You select a book in a category (which for students would be Children’s, as there is some objectionable content for little eyes and ears), and compare pages to the scanned version with what the OCR software created. Initial proofreaders make changes, and then are given feedback before progressing to more difficult projects. Here is a place to show children that you will need those grammar and spelling skills. ((I tell them regularly when they’re having trouble accessing a website, “Hmmm…. guess it’s important to know how to spell things correctly, huh?”.)) Now, I am certain this is for older children, and even then likely the high students. However, I think the exercise could be tremendously valuable when modeled from a projector or whiteboard. Students could also participate through the Smooth Reading area of the site, where they can help make sure the final e-book is readable and without errors. Again, students would need to search for Juvenile books.
Like Project Gutenberg, Librivox is about communities collaborating to make audio books available and open to everyone. You do have to register, but they say that “Everyone is welcome!”.
This one is rather a no-brainer, but I’d like to emphasize the book sharing aspect of this tool as well as the creation and collaboration parts.
I was pretty much moved to tears reading “One More Monkey” by Mopoke, that you see below. It has all the qualities of great children’s literature, and I can see sitting down to read to my child from my iPad at bedtime with stories like this one.
Those are very rough ideas. I’ll let you know if I am able to try any of them this year with students. Right now, I’m very bogged down trying to get our blogging project off the ground. ((Feel free to visit my students at the BES Blogs Portal.)) Have you used any of these tools with students? If so, what age? How did you use them?