I'm wondering about strategies for extending learning activities beyond the life of a course. It seems common practice is to archive courses at the end of a semester, leaving students without access to all of their hard work. Also, futures students could benefit so much from past discussions and resources generated through participation in earlier courses.
Does anybody have any examples? What are the challenges? Any tips and advice?
In a blog post from 2004, she quotes an interaction between two of her students that illustrates the value of posting one's writing publicly and getting feedback.
(The example is about one screen from the top. The links don't work on that page right now but links to actual student blogs are available on the link below.)
This link to assignments in a 2008 course on creative writing lists the blogs of the class members in the right hand column.
Thanks for sharing your urls and ideas. I'm doing a Marratech session with my Health Psychology course tonight -- and it is quite exciting. I hope to introduce more bloggoing in the future. I introduced Skype and Marratech this semester -- both new to all the students -- which actually surprised me.
I find that my biggest block about introducing blogs in the health psychology course is that the students are so busy. I'm really thinking I will have to drop an assignment if I add the blogging. Jo Ann
What aspects are you considering decreasing so you can allow the students time for blogging?
I am coming in late to the discussion and was intrigued to see the question about which assignments should be dropped to introduce blogging into a course. This was a dilemma for us last year when we wanted students to journal their learning progress and also communicate as a class.
So we decided to combine the two things through blogging. If blogs are the main means of communication and they are included as an assessment, students have no choice but to use them. If they are open, they also attract comment from the blogging community which enriches the learning experience for students. If weekly tasks - discussion questions, readings etc - are set as a guide, students can be given credit against criteria for every posting when the blog is assessed.
I would like to share a model of learning involving a course blog, students blogs and a course wiki which I have used for three courses, two of which were team taught with a colleague.
Student blogs are used as a progressive assignment to demonstrate reflection and progress in the course. They are also used as a means for students to provide feedback to each other and share ideas and discuss concepts in the course. The discussions which occur around the blog posts are integral to developing a learning community. There are links to the participants' blogs from the course blog. Students are encouraged to use a RSS reader to keep track of each other's postings.
All three courses are open content on WikiEducator - the first two have just completed a semester with formal and informal enrolments and the third is just commencing with formal and informal enrolments.
1. Designing for Flexible learning Practice - DFLP
2. Evaluation of eLearning for Best Practice
3. Facilitating Online Communities - this has just started.
I hope you find this helpful as a model. You might wish to join Facilitating Online Communities and try it out for yourselves. My colleague Leigh Blackall is facilitating on his own this year as I am on thesis leave....yes getting distracted by this discussion. :)
We are finding it works very well when all assignments are integrated and each student uses a blog as the focal point. For example, in DFLP - as well as analysis of weekly readings and exploration, students post ideas for their flexible development plan and their presentation of the plan (assignment two) on their blogs (assignment one) as they progress ending with the final plan (assignment three).
One of the challenges with integrating open activities that live on beyond the length of the scheduled course is that our educational system doesn't support it very well.
A problem with blogging is that often IT depts at institutions don't support the software. Using some of the hosted options brings us to more issues: control over the content, the patriot act and privacy laws, etc
Another example of what we need to be concerned with as educators illustrated here. In an upcoming course offered through University of Manitoba and team-taught by George Siemens and Stephen Downes: Connectivism and Connective Knowledge. On a course planning blog they raise the issue of catering to both casual learners and those who are taking the course for credit. With respect to the credit students George writes:
Sharing student work either openly or with future students also requires some advance planning and admin work -- consent forms, etc.
I'm sounding like a complete pessimist here! Really, I'm not! Just wondering how people are dealing with these issues.
Best wishes E.A.
There are 2 summary tables in the book that will help you categorize the Web 2.0 strategies a bit. See Chapter 1 and Chapter 10 (the first and last chapters) when the book arrives. That should help your people as should the visual of the the phases of the R2D2 model in various chapters.
It was really intend for ESL students and I also wrote some other tips and tutorials for using wikis on my blog.
You can find the tips for EFL / ESL students here: http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/2008/05/using-wikis-with-efl-students.html
I thought that developing a story from different perspectives would also develop valuable thinking and social skills, like the ability to put yourself in someone else's position and understand their motivation etc.
Sylvia, you are raising a really good point about blogging publicly.
The systems that are installed and "approved" are not always the most current or able to capture things in the most educationally sound manner when we seek to bring these things into a class situation.
In the last class I taught, a Leadership graduate course, I used an open and free wiki to develop final exam questions. I did not have any available location to do this within the Blackboard system that was already installed (even though the students still used it more like an open discussion forum which could have been handled within Blackboard), though getting out of the current (or rather somewhat outdated) version that was installed was a breath of fresh air. I do not believe I could require participation, though for privacy reasons (as well as policy and legal ones) I would not want to do that.
However, I am wondering if the blogging software programs that are freely available allow for reading of the blogs without having them publicly available for searches / Google indexed? In other words, can my students create a blog and give me the URL to it yet have it hidden from anybody else who may stmble upon it?
This question got me curious. I checked Blogger and you can protect your blog so that only a select group of individuals have access. Also, with Moodle the blogging tool is integrated with the platform, so it can be restricted to just individuals who have access to the site. A nice feature with the Moodle blog is that you can adjust the access setting with each post.
Nancy pointed us to the Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences archived SCoPE discussion. That prompted me to mention another archived discussion that may be of interest: Blogging to Enhance Learning Experiences: February 12-25, 2007. I noticed on our "emergent themes" mindmeister map we listed mis-uses of blogs in the classroom:
- combining very personal with academic (and a caution with Facebook for sure!)
- a place to post homework
Bolgs, wikis, LMS's and Elluminate products are exciting, but I am seeking more information on the professional technical (I prefer not to use the "voc" word) side of things. Strategies for this track would be similar to those used in the medical and scientific fields...those requiring the demonstration of hands on competence. It is a very different thing to write about brain surgery than it is to perform that operation; and perform it successfully (is 95% competency 'good enough'?). How do we do some of these via e-learning? How do we assess this work?
Specific examples in this area have eluded my search and I would be grateful for referrals, if they exist.
The final phase of "doing" relates to that I think. But all 4 phases have some performance activities. I think I understand what you are getting at. You want people to demonstrate knowledge--they do this in their reflection papers, their wikibooks, their critiques of web designs in Adobe Connect Pro, their answers to simulations, their super summary of blog postings, their movie reviews, their practice of a new language in Livemocha, their warm-up exam activities, etc.
Are you referring to outcomes-based education and assessment? That is not what we targeted. I am a former accountant and CPA in an earlier life, so I have become sensitive to over assessment practices. I am now more of a process person. Assessment practices are the domain of 2 of my doc students, Nari Kim (who has a recent article on this; write to firstname.lastname@example.org; see her article at http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring111/) and Shijuan Liu (now Dr. Liu) who did a dissertation on this and has a great paper on it. Ask her for it (email@example.com). She is about to leave for Cal State LA but this email will work for 6-12 months. Shijuan's article has tons of ideas in it. Almost as much as the R2D2 book and she will give you it for free. We/she has been studying assessment in the online MBA program here and 4 other online master's degrees.
I'm not sure exactly what you are looking for but I found some virtual labs at Johns Hopkins U. One of these is for building bridge trusses; it includes loads as part of the simulation but I'm not sure if that part becomes an assessment. Is this the kind of activity you seek?