Yesterday I introduced my 8th graders to Dipity in Social Studies. We have been working on WW2 and I wanted them to produce a timeline in Dipity where they were to include video clips, texts and photos. They had ten topics to choose from ranging from Nazi-Soviet Pact to Battle of Dunkirk. We had a double lesson and eager to get started we kicked off in the computer room.

DipityDipity is a great tool, but slightly confusing in the beginning and Flash-based. Two challenges that created trouble for me and my class. I had posted the task on the class blog with instructions and my very own Dipity presentation Road to War.

Out of 15 students only 3 students managed to set up an account with Dipity, read the blog entry on the class blog and get started on their Dipity presentation. The rest had either problems with getting the Dipity site to run properly with its Flash features or to understand the task itself. One student wondered if she could sit down and write a straightforward essay in her notebook instead.

What did I learn from this experience?

1. Clear instructions and particularly focus on main objective. What is the purpose of using this utility?

2. Make sure we have a network that can handle several students on the same webpage. (As of now certain websites act sluggish when more than 5 students work on the same page – Google Docs is a notable exception.

The students are getting fairly used to use online resources such as Web 2.0 tools like Google Docs, Blogger and others, but found Dipity somewhat confusing. I still believe that is partly my fault. I could have been more clear on objective and purpose as well as the introduction of Dipity itself.

Nonetheless, I think it is important to try these things out with my students and use the feedback I get from them in terms of what works and what does not works that well. It wasn’t a total disaster, but it was a frustrating experience seeing that my lessons did not go according to plan.