Elgg learning community for 5th grade Sunday School created

I’m going to be teaching 5th grade Sunday School this year at our church for a third year, and this time around I think we’re going to try using a walled-garden learning community website powered by the open source platform Elgg. Last year we tried using Moodle, but that didn’t work really well. Parents had lots of trouble logging in, and I wasn’t pleased that students didn’t have their own “profile pages” like they do on other social networking sites and couldn’t “friend” each other. The first year I taught the class we were going to use Imbee, but didn’t, and ended up trying to use the Grapple-provided website which was really just an online bulletin board powered (I think) by phpBB. It wasn’t a learning community or a social network, and it wasn’t engaging for the kids– it was basically a flop. I’m hoping to change that this year. Last year when Moodle didn’t work I switched to just using a blog to share updates with parents as well as media we created, but I don’t think that was really very successful either, in terms of reaching many parents. I should have surveyed them at the end of the year, but I didn’t.

One of my main goals in setting up our Elgg learning community is to keep parents in the loop, and encourage both students and parents to discuss what we talk about / learn about in class each week when they go home. I was enthused to find an Elgg plug-in tonight that supports prayer requests and praises (Kneemail) and am activating that on our site now.

I’m looking forward to hopefully learning more about Elgg in the weeks and months ahead. Our church is rolling out a new website in about a week that is supposed to have more social networking / learning community support built into it, and I’m supposed to learn more about that from our outgoing webmaster / communications director at the end of the month. There’s a chance we could use that new church website for our 5th graders, but I’m thinking I’ll go with Elgg since I’ve heard great things about this platform for youth learning communities (mainly from Jim Klein) and am looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about Elgg through this use of it for 5th grade Sunday School! I’ll post more about my learning here during the year. I’ve joined the “Elgg’s “Walled Gardeners” group” and I’m sure I’ll find lots of ideas and support there for this effort!

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