My teaching partner Heather Durnin and I run a community for our two classrooms that we call the Idea Hive. This site is a WordPress Multiuser setup combined with Buddypress and additional plugins and functionality. This setup allows us to have a central blog for ourselves, blogs for the kids in our classes, and allows them to have discussion groups and forums along with other functionality that can come in to play when needed.
Overall, one of our main goals has been to build a community, a hybrid space where kids feel just as comfortable writing an academically focussed blog post as they do talking about the hottest Youtube videos or the latest NHL hockey games. Over the two years Heather and I have worked together our community has grown and changed. As we have watched our kids engage in these digital spaces, we have learned a lot about what draws them in, what helps them to write and be present for each other even though they live 2 700 kms apart.
We have approximately six weeks of school to go until we head into final exams. As our community in its present form has been an active space over this school year, I plan on looking back and reflecting on some of the things we’ve learned leading this community of learners.
Here are the visitors stats for the Idea Hive blog for this school year:
(Note that it is only May third as I write this so the stats for this month are just beginning to be collected.)
Whether you use “visits” or “hits” as your benchmark, we’ve had quite a successful year. It is easy to see that our students use the site. With approximately 60 students in the Idea Hive total, most of them are coming here to check in here regularly over the time they spend in our classrooms. What else I think is significant over the year looking at these stats is that the visits to the site have increased, month over month, over the school year. There was no loss of engagement or interest across the year.
Here are the stats on a daily basis for April, the month that has just been completed:
What I always find interesting about these day by day stats is that they show the weekends are almost as busy as the weekdays (weekends highlighted in blue).
While hit counts don’t necessarily equate with learning, they do show a significant level of engagement and that is an important point of what we are trying to do in our space.
Our students have blogs that are tied to this community. There are also 42 different groups, the overwhelming majority of which have been made by the students, that have been posted on the site. These groups range from photography to facebook to minecraft to movies and everything in between. While some of the groups are definitely more active and have more members than others, there are hundreds of posts in these spaces. Engagement, collaboration and community building are the overriding goals of including the functionality of groups in this community.
While the stats don’t tell the whole story of the community, I believe they do show that this type of space is valuable in a classroom and that students absolutely will use it when given the opportunity.