NWP 2006 TL Presentation -- Troy Hicks & Bud Hunt

Hey TLs,

Thanks to the many of you who came to our session and those joining the conversation from the TL listserv. Please add your ideas about free/open source tools to build your sites' website and if your site is using one of these tools already, please link to it, too. Also, if you have other ideas to add to our list of critical questions, please do.


Bud and Troy

The Social Web: Building Interactivity into Our Sites' Websites


As the social web – blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other interactive technologies – becomes more a part of literacy teaching and learning, writing project sites must adapt their own work to accommodate new modes of learning. The site’s website acts as one focal point for teacher consultants to see their work, and that of their colleagues, evolve through collaboration, dialogue, and access to certain “members only” privileges that being a part of a writing project entails. Moreover, by enabling TCs to use their site’s website as a social and interactive online space, we hope to encourage them to practice with these types of technologies and better understand implications of how they could be used with their students.

In this session, two writing projects – Colorado State and Red Cedar – will share their thinking about how an interactive website can support the TC community, contribute to new literacy learning, and help site leaders better communicate throughout the school year. If you have a laptop, bring it because participants will get to see “behind the curtain” of the CSU (http://www.csuwritingproject.org/) and RCWP (http://writing.msu.edu/rcwp/) sites and talk with facilitators about how and why they designed their sites. Participants will also leave with resources for building interactive websites.

Session Goals:

  • We are not trying to tell you to mimic what we are doing, but to think about read/write web tools that you can use at your own site that are fairly simple, usually free, and often can contribute tools for community building
  • We want you to leave with a list of possible tools and questions that you can use to engage TLs, directors, leadership team, and other TCs in a conversation about what your site's website should look like, and, more importantly, what you can do with it.

Agenda for Presentation

  • 3:30 - Intros and welcome
  • 3:35 - Goals and background for the session
  • 3:50 - Behind the scenes at the CSUWP site
  • 4:00 - Behind the scenes at the RCWP site
  • 4:10 - Lessons learned
  • 4:20 - Review of tools
  • 4:30 - 4:45 Critical questions and resources
  • 4:45 - 5:00 TL Strand Evaluations

Critical Questions for your site to considering as you design, implement, and sustain a social website


  • How would you describe the general mood that TCs at your site adopt towards technology?
    • Sometimes we hear that TCs want it, we create it, and then they don't always use it.
    • In the summer institute, we discussed opportunities for tech use and I had to develop a shared understanding of what we could do, but no one did it
      • What is it you want me to cut in the SI? - Nothing! Literacy is changing...
    • In what ways can you make TCs dependent on the web page?
  • How much time are you, as the TL, and the leadership at the site willing to put in to both building the site and then maintaining the community?
    • How realistic are the expectations that the director, TL, TCs, and others have for themselves?
  • How much money do you want to spend? Are you willing to pay for web hosting or are you set on using free space from your university?
  • How is literacy changing? In what ways can we talk about technologies in ways that are framed as a part of changing literacy practices rather than just "cool" tools to use for the sake of using them?
  • What happens if it really takes off? How can we offer inservice that we can sustain?

Purposes and Audiences

  • What is it you want to use the web for, anyway? Why can't you do whatever it is that you want to do in meetings, workshops, conferences, retreats or other venues?
    • Who wants the interactivity? I do, but do they?
    • Do they understand the potential, and can't use it, or is it that they don't care?
  • To what ends will this website support the core work of your site:
    • Invitational
      • Peer response
      • Book study pre-summer institute
      • Online registration
      • Accessibility of information
    • Continuity
      • Alumni
      • Collaborations
      • Events
      • Donations
      • Paying for other things
    • Inservice
      • Tech tutorials
      • An archive
    • Outreach
      • Tech learning for those who haven't come to the institute
      • Collaborations with other organizations that are doing digital publishing
  • Who else do you want the site to appeal to and how will these audiences have access to information on it? What do you want them to see?
    • Potential teacher applicants
    • Educators in general, including administrators
    • Students and parents
    • Policymakers
    • Other teachers who aren't affiliated and don't want to attend, but want ideas
    • As a TL, lurk and see what is happening
    • Community
    • TCs who were part of the network and have faded away, and are now coming back
    • Students blogging with other students


  • How much control do you, as TL, and the site leadership want to have over the content of the site? Membership to the site?

Content Development

  • Does everyone author? Is it just the site leadership? How often is it updated?
  • Quality of the content (peer review as editors, posting ala workshop)


  • "Technology for TCs" workshops -- five part series to learn about tools and connect that use to the WP's website


Examples of Sites' Websites with Interactivity

Word Press and other blogs



  • Post and respond to drafts of writing
  • Use as a news delivery system
  • Simple to use and add others to your site
  • Not nearly as robust a CMS as Drupal or Moodle

Drupal, Mambo, Plone, and Joomla



  • Manage multiple users and content
  • Robust CMS system




  • Organize your content into "courses," or groups of TCs with similar interests
  • "Courselike" interface that many teachers may be familiar with
  • Built in calendar

Wikispaces and other wikis



  • Allows for collaborative content creation
  • In terms of representing your site, you may not want things to be wide open for revision




  • Create a social network for TCs with blogs and social bookmarking, as well as the ability to create communities
  • Social networking is the tech rage, for now, but appears to have a strong future

Other Examples of Interactivity



  • Web design and management




  • Advantage: Through the use of components, you can add a number of applications: blogs, forums, wikis, etc.
  • Advantage: Open-sourse community-management system (CMS) with a strong community and lots of themes and extensions
  • Disadvantage: Not as open and transparent as some other solutions