Believe It or Not, It’s Just Me

When it comes to wikis (my first real foray into the read/write Web, they hold a special place in my heart dontcha know), I’m usually thinking in terms of classroom models; however, I recently had the chance to create a wiki for special ed department members members of my school’s Special Education department. I sent a Bat-signal up into the blogosphere early last month, and then never followed up on it here until now.

Here, then, is the full text of the email I sent to my school’s Special Education department this afternoon:

For my grad school internship, I created a wiki website for the HC Special Services department: On it, you will find information on a variety of topics including behavior support, New Jersey classifications, and various online resources for special ed teachers. It’s just missing one thing: your input.

The reason this site is a wiki instead of a regular website is because I wanted the teachers of the department to have an ongoing say in its development. There is a very simple 3-step tutorial on how to add content to any part of the site linked off the main page, so I encourage you to visit the site and add your thoughts and experiences to any part of the site. There is a section specifically for general hints and tips (perhaps from the more experienced teachers to the newer ones?), but of course you can add to or modify any existing information.

The value of wikis is in group collaboration. I hope you will find time to make a contribution and help this tool grow. I am available to you if you have any questions.

I hope the tone and content of the email were sufficient to get people poking around and maybe even contributing, but there’s a part of me that’s pessimistic about how frequently it will be used – and that’s not a reflection on the faculty. I think there’s a missing component here that I am unable to offer, at least not within the confines of the contracted school day: training. I feel like I’m offering these folks a potentially very cool, very powerful utility, but withholding the instruction manual.

And if you don’t know why that’s a bad thing, just ask William Katt.


  • Hope that this project leaves you “walking on air”. Must caution, however, that many teachers do not want to be interactive.

    You’re right that training is the key. Unfortunately, most districts do not provide unstructured time for exploring and collaborating.

    Even if you only get a few staff members to take a look, you’ll have planted a seed for the future.

    Good luck!

  • Great email! I agree with you about not having the time to provide the training, that’s what I’m running into as well with training teachers on edublogs. I only have so much time in a day, and although I’m usually willing to go a bit above and beyond, I can’t do another full-time job unpaid! As diane said, you’ve planted the seed and shown the possibilities. Possibly some follow-up emails with tips might help? And you DID offer to help via email, I’d be VERY interested to hear if you get any replies 🙂 Please keep us posted.

    Kate Olson

  • Not for nothing, but I got the urge to seek out “Believe It or Not” on YouTube and have been playing it nonstop for the last three days, including right this second.

    Thanks both for your supportive comments; I’ll definitely post an update in a month or two. The site’s actually getting a lot of hits via Google searches for assorted special ed terminology, so even if the intended audience chooses not to use it, I feel good that it’s serving someone’s needs.

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