The virtual Wonder Wall is collaborative Q&A software, developed at Michigan State University, unfortunately it ran into a script error and locked up during the demo but I imagine it is still being worked on since they are “ramping up” to sell it right now. Licenses cost $500 per year per 50 seats, so it’s relatively inexpensive.
Wonder Wall is used by Michigan 4H Children’s Garden to connect scientists with students. They have a program of field trips called “Seeds of Science” that get children involved in hands on experiments similar to real experiments being done by scientists at Michigan State University.
To use field trips to promote curiosity and wonder. Extend the excitement and interest to after the visit because field trips tend to run out of time. Stay connected between field trips.
Physical Wonder Wall:
The physical Wonder Wall is a big piece of paper that kids can use markers to fill with questions during a field trip. The educators look at the wall and pick a few questions out to answer. Some example questions are “Why do we even have aphids?” and “Do Poinsettias have red chlorophyll?”
Online Wonder Wall:
The online Wonder Wall is a virtual bulletin board with a built in chat that kids can add questions (including images) to or chat with and educator. Each Wonder Wall is moderated and that moderator’s task is to answer those questions. Each answered question is marked with a gold star. The Wonder Wall can be used asynchronously or at scheduled times (class meetings).
We got to see some usage numbers and the online Wonder Wall seems to be very popular with all the users but especially 4th and 5th graders. In general the complexity of questions asked increased the more times a student used the software and students stay connected to the board the are using for over 6 months (even though it is optional). Moderators make a commitment to answer every question within 24 hours of it being posted, they have missed that mark once when a “wall” got 380 questions posted in 1 day.
The online Wonder Wall is built in Flash 8 and uses the Flash Communication Server to facilitate up to 50 simultaneous logins. Each group using a Wonder Wall has a unique ID, Password and URL. Michigan State has two servers with licenses to do up to 5000 simultaneous connections because they are hoping to sell this to a lot of groups.