Category Archives: WebPals


Well, this is my entry into Teach Paperless ‘s Cinco de Mayo contest for using Web 2.0 tools, a great blogger by the way. (It never hurts to butter up the judge:) WebPals is taking the traditional pen-pals idea, but using Skype to make it a real conversation between students of different cultures. If you are unfamiliar with Skype, it is a free download that allows you to make free video calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world. I know there are many classes with pen pals through email, but I believe using a program like Skype for a face-to-face conversation takes it to a much higher level.

Students would be signed up with another student from a different culture around the world. They would have 5-10 minute conversations once a week. It would start out structured with certain topics to talk about but allowing free conversation. The goal would be to develop cross-cultural friendship that would decrease students prejudices and stereotypes and increase their tolerance. I used to teach in an alternative school in a rural district that had very little diversity. I had students in class with neonazi tattoos and who had gotten in trouble for burning crosses in people’s yards. WebPals would give those students a chance to get to know personally someone who is diiferent from themselves and discover the similarities that they have.

Of course, other tools like edmodo (twitter is blocked for students at our school) could be used too, but I think Skype would be the most fun and interactive for the students. The long term goal would be to develop cross-cultural friendships and then develop a social action project to work collaboratively on. The main pitfall holding up my plans is finding the right international school that is interested, speaks English, is in a timezone that is compatible, and has the technology to do it. I would really like to connect to a school in South or Central America because the time zones are similar and they have the largest cultural differences to my students, sorry Canada:(

In my class we have made a few successful Skype calls, but next year I hope to take to the next level with WebPals. How about you? Anyone interested in giving it a shot with us? Leave a comment or tweet me @concretekax


One thing I would like to recommend first to everyone in the 23 things class is that they add a subscription to RSS on their blogs. Once you do the RSS assignment you will see how important it is to make it easier for others to follow your blog. I, of course, am getting lazy to actually visit your blogs and want them on my reader 🙂

Also you can sign up for an RSS feed to your own blog’s comments in Google Reader. That way you can monitor if your blog has received a comment without actually going there.

I have created my first wiki: Cool Crete. It is a place that lists links of interesting websites about concrete. I am not totally obsessed with concrete, but it was the easiest thing I could think of to quickly build a wiki.

Wetpaint was easy to use and get started. Since I do not really want to maintain this site I did not use all of its features. But it has a really nice setup for evaluating your wiki as far as helping you get traffic on it. You can e-mail all of your friends and it helps with setting up titles, tags, and headings for search engines.

I did not mess with the picture part of it too much because they had to be formatted smaller than my images I have conveniently on hand. I would like to be able to add my own background to the template to make it more interesting.

The basic posting of starting a thread was very easy and I think students would be able to use a wiki well. The future use that I am thinking about using wikis for would be a site dedicated to my WebPals project. It could be a place to invite classes to participate, explain how to participate, and discuss problems/solutions.

Overall, my feeling right now is that I like blogs better than wikis. Maybe because I want to control content. It seems like anything in a wiki could also be in a blog with a discussion in the comments, but perhaps the discussion nature of wikis encourages people to be involved with them.