Wednesday, March 16, 2005

ETECH: Remixing Wikis with Rendezvous, Web Services and SchoolTool

Just heard an excellent presentation titled, "From the Classroom: Remixing Wikis with Rendezvous, Web Services and SchoolTool". Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon are using wikis (Instiki) and some basic web services to provide an interactive, low-budget teaching "intranet."

Basically they have teachers run Instiki on their laptop, then students in a lab use Mac's Rendezvous to connect to the teacher's laptop & create and submit their schoolwork on the teacher's wiki.  The teach can then take home and read/grade/comment on schoolwork.

Teachers and kids love it.  They love it because it's easy and it works.

Then the needed to integrate w/other systems, e.g. the class rosters or student profiles are located on a different system.  They're using SchoolTool, an open source school management program, and then using web services to hook up the wiki so it syncs with the other IT systems used by teachers.  (SchoolTool reminds me a bit of CivicSpace.)

Then they needed a calendar, so the turned to "SchoolBell" -- a calendar server that is part of SchoolTool, and again use web services to tie the calendar to the wiki.

This is awesome stuff.  It's great to see an elementary school principal talk about how they're mixing technologies to self-serve a better way to teach students.  And this is bottom up -- they bypassed the school district's grand plans for infrastructure that will be purchased "some day soon" and put something together today.

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