Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Joys of Percolating

At long last, I am once again full of ideas.
Not well-organized ideas, but ideas.

I have been home sick for the past day and a half. Not deathly ill, just too feverish to manage fifth grade students. It's been the first time I've had in months to just putter on my computer. I tended to all sorts of online loose ends. As I tidied, I had time to follow a few thoughts. One thing lead to another and BANG! Suddenly I was full of possibilities.

I began to see how to get my writing program in gear. I have a few good resources I'll use to keep me from creating everything from scratch. Some of those resources have good worksheets, but I'm the only one who sees worksheets. What if the responses were in some sort of forum where students could respond to each other's ideas, refine them, challenge them?

Hey wait! Doesn't Moodle have forums? Let's get Moodle going. But my students need email addresses to be part of Moodle and most of them don't have email addresses. But wait! I think I get thousands of free addresses with my web space. Can I create 50 accounts and use those to register my students in my Moodle? (brief pause) It works! And the students have no way of accessing those addresses so the addresses do not present a security problem in any way.

And couldn't these writing projects develop into Blogs? David Warlick has kindly sent me the info to register my class in BlogMeister. Can we start projects in Moodle and then move the polished ones to blogs for world consumption?

What about all the poetry we wrote earlier? Could we make a poetry wiki? It could have a section for each type of poetry, with accompanying pages of examples. Should each poem be its own page or should all the poems of one type be on the same page? Can we paste from Appleworks into a wiki or will hidden bits of code wreak havoc?

If only we had more access to the computers. If only we could quickly fix all the hinges on the eMates we received. Then we could use them...

And what about the email discussion group I manage? We've been having so much trouble making sure everyone has all of the addresses correct. During our current session, no one but me has received all of the responses because each person sending has a different person's email address wrong. We tried making the group a multi-user blog but this group isn't in a place for news readers and RSS feeds so it fell flat. We need something like a discussion forum or Yahoo groups, but something private and that is email-based, not web-based, something like a mailing list. A mailing list! I wonder if there is open source software to run a mailing list. Oh look! My web space has PHPlist that can be installed with Fantastico! And here's a PHPlist support forum so I can ask my newbie questions and rely on the kindness (and patience) of strangers to help me find my way. Now, how to migrate from email to mailing list without stressing my users... [Update: The kind forum users explained that PHPlist is only for sending mail, not receiving so it won't work. Fortunately, my web space host has Mailman mailing list software already configured.]

And so, I have quadrupled my to-do list but I feel energized by the possibilities and by my own new learning, instead of drained and overwhelmed as I've felt up until now. Now to carve out enough time to get these items rolling.