Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Take Two Giant Steps

Take two giant steps. Mother may I?

Classblogmeister has just entered a new dimension - wysiwyg editing!
  1. Allowing students, even at a very young age, to hyperlink and in other ways format their writing is very big. My 8 and 9 year old third graders get it. They understand that kind of expression. They read it easily, and now they can write in that way as well. Art Wolinsky was one of the first guys I remember reading who talked about writing needing to be three dimensional, at a very young age.
  2. Allowing teachers to teach writing in this new medium is, for me at least, huge. Now, I've of course got kids who will go nuts over fonts, colors, pictures, links, etc, etc - because they look so cool. Some teachers see this as a nightmare. OMG, the kids are just going to waste their time, etc, etc. Well, get a grip and teach them, I say. To me this is a dream come true - a chance to teach my kids that, as much as content, design matters - to borrow a phrase from Dean Shareski. And content does indeed come first, yes it does.

Background, a little:

  • Classblogmeister, the blogging tool developed by David Warlick (and offered for FREE to teachers for the last 5 years) has always been text only, for any blog publishing - teacher or student. Html is accepted, but you gotta know how, and type in raw html code. As a result, 99% of student blog articles have been text only, w/o hyperlinks or any html formatting.
  • A couple of days ago David announced on the YahooGroups list for Classblogmeister that he had found a way to incorporate a wysiwyg editor into classblogmeister. This came with an apology from David for taking so long, it would be at the end of the year for N. hemisphere teachers and so on. Well, I look on this as a perfect opportunity for me to think about the new possibilities over the next two months without kids. And I still have a couple of weeks to try it out with my third graders who know what they are doing on their blogs. Today one of my kids posted a blog article using the new "graphical" interface, then another... Tomorrow the teaching starts for all, and it will be different, because the tool has changed.
  • You know, teaching writing is SO different now. Any teacher NOT teaching writing in a web 2.0 environment like a blog or wiki is shortchanging his or her students. It is that clear in my mind.

So anyway, this is really exciting. I see doors opening everywhere, leading in many different directions. Thank you, David!

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3 comments:

Paul Schwan said...

Mark,

Thanks for sharing this! We'll use the wysiwyg, come August. I like what it can do and tried it out on our class' blog.

Mark Ahlness said...

Paul, thanks for the note - now I've got to figure out how you changed the classblogmeister layout for your class - very cool!! - Mark

Dean Mattson said...

Thanks for the information. I'm planning on presenting about blogs place in the writing process at a technology conference in October and I'm definitely going to be including Class Blogmeister as one of the options teachers can use if they want to use blogs for their classroom.

Any teacher NOT teaching writing in a web 2.0 environment like a blog or wiki is shortchanging his or her students.

I could not agree more. Giving them that sense of purpose when they know they're publishing for a real audience makes them see writing in a whole new way.

Thank you for being a trailblazer. Your efforts were a model to me when I started blogs at my school.