ISB just launched PantherNet. Our Moodle system that syncs (or is trying to) with PowerSchool. It’s still in Beta but early feedback from teachers:

“Where has this been?”

That’s a good sign!

Yesterday I met with a fourth grade teacher eager to see if PantherNet could fit into her classroom. I haven’t used Moodle much in the elementary but there is only one way to find out if it could be beneficial in the learning process.

The only way to do that is find a teacher who is game to give it a go, spend some time with it, and see what happens with the students.

I met with the teacher for about 30 minutes yesterday talking about her classroom and finding out what she wanted from the program.

It’s not about doing one more thing, it is about replacing something the teacher is already doing and then see if:

A) It works for both the teacher and the student.
B) See if there is added value in the learning process.

After our 30 minute talk the teacher was very excited, asked if I could come back in an hour to give chatting a go with her students.

So, we created a simple chat in Moodle to see if there would be any use of it in a 4th grade classroom….a clear and simple experiment.

The topic: What are some of your favorite things?

Chatting in 4th grade by jutecht.

We chatted in class for about 30 minutes. It was interesting to watch the students interact in this way. Some would write something and then run over to their friend to see if they saw it.

A couple observations:

Keeping the chat on topic was difficult. Both the novelty of using chat and the ability to say thing you might not say in class came up. We talked about both issues when we debriefed at the end of the session.

Taught students to use @ when responding to someone on a specific topic. They picked it up very quickly.

Looking at the image above, students are still trying to use complete sentences and proper grammar when chatting. Is this the correct writing style for a chat?

As the student were chatting the teacher and I watched and discussed what we were seeing. My favorite moment came when she turned to me and said, “This is like a new genre. We need to be teaching students how to communicate this way.”

And I agree.

The same day I did this chat with 4th grade. I myselft had three Skype chats with people around the world. From the US, Shanghai, and Australia.

This is how business gets done today. It would be interesting to see how businesses use a chat client. I know when I visited Wetpaint headquarters this summer they have an internal chat system running as a way to communicate. I wonder if other companies do the same?

The big moment came this morning though when I bumped into the teacher in the hallway. She came into school today and was bombarded by students in her class wanting to know why they couldn’t chat last night when they got home. 12 of the 17 students in her class when home last night, logged in and tried to chat.


The were never told the web address…they just remembered it.

They were told that the chat would be turned off…yet they tried to use it anyway.

Two students found out how to change their profile picture and uploaded and updated their profiles on the site.

It was what they wanted to talk about in class

…..did we just excite students about learning? Did we just speak to them in their language? Did we engage them with the tools they want to be engaged with? Why the excitement? Yes, it’s new, yes it’s different…but can we get learning out of it?

Questions I still have as we set up “Chat 2” next week. The conversations with students in the class have been the best part. Talking about communication and cyberbullying and doing it in a safe environment that we (the school) can control.

This is a life skill these students will need in 2017 when they graduate from high school. The skill of course is learning to communicate in digital world using new digital tools. The chat client…not so important.

So techszewski who will be joining our team here next year sent me a link last week that I’m just not getting to.

The homepage alone is enough to scare most people:

Chat in 3D Avatar mode? MSN Messenger is so Web 1.0 after seeing this. You create an avatar that can chat with these little chat bubbles floating above your head. You create your avatar, who gets his/her own room to invite people into to chat.

So here is yet another avatar I have. In Web 1.0 you were crazy if you had more than one e-mail address. People still look at me like I’m crazy because I have 6 e-mail addresses. However, I have a feeling that soon people will be counting the number of avatars you have. With online games, Second Life, Chatting, I’m sure Skype will have one soon too!

I haven’t spent must time in here yet, but am a little worried at who the audience is this is aimed and the choice of avatars you have to choose from. Of course they are all “Hot Babes” or “Cool Dudes”. Some of the pictures just on the homepage have me feeling uneasy about this one, and when you sign up for an account there is no age limit that I saw, so this is open chat.

All the more reason we need to be teaching Internet Safety in our classrooms. About 50% of our 3rd and 4th graders said they use MSN messenger…could this be next?

If it is….what do we do? How do we teach them to be safe? Who’s job is to to make sure they are safe?

I’m worried about this one…fun, new, different, you look great, get to met “Hot looking Babes”, you get your own room…all of this adds up to an attractive looking IM program for  pre-teens and teens. I’m just worried because you never know who could be on the other end of that handsome looking man. I mean who’s really behind the sun glasses?

[tags]IM, avatar, 3D[/tags]

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