Social Ratings in Teaching and Learning

A while back we completed another Hot Team white paper related to social rating sites — think of as the big example. Essentially a space where content is either aggregated in or submitted by users and then voted on by the community to raise the opportunity for exposure to all readers. Lots of people find these types of spaces very important for helping them filter and discover the things that are interesting to them. We’ve talked about it on the ETS Talk podcast in the past and we are all agreeing there is something in this for education.

So, in a typically crazy move Scott McDonald and I made the decision to put a pligg (open source) site at the middle of our CI 597C course we are teaching this semester. At the start it confused students a bit, but I am starting to see content coming in from student blogs, with comments, and votes. It is really cool to see a community developing before my eyes. It fits the theme of the course — Disruptive Technologies for Teaching and Learning — so it is a natural fit.


This week we will see if our vision of this will work. What we hope to see are students responding to the course readings in their own blogs (so they “own” the content) and they are aggregated automatically into the Pligg site. They are then given three votes to give to the top posts (and they must comment on the post as to why they voted for it). The top vote getters rise to the top and these then form the basis for the face to face discussion for the week. It feels like it is a solid way to bring lots of pieces of content together and give students a real voice in the organization of emerging conversation. It is worth watching. Anyone else exploring social rating sites for teaching and learning?

4 thoughts on “Social Ratings in Teaching and Learning

  1. Thanks for posting your process. I think I finally get what you guys are up to with this… and I like. I love the idea that by using blogs, they “own” their comments and thinking, and that it doesn’t just die with the course at the end of the semester (as it will with my threaded discussions in Angel). Hmmm, this is cool, and is giving me lots to think about. I think I like the pligg aspect too, although I’d sure like to customize that cluttered interface! There are more “clickable” items in each post than raw text which I find distracting.
    I entered the site this evening and even added a couple responses to posts. I felt a bit awkward barging in on the conversation uninvited, but was drawn in by a couple of the posts, and felt compelled to chime in–after all, the conversation was still being had in a public space 😉 In my own course down the road, I’m not sure I’d want to do it differently–that is, I’d probably want our class conversations to be in the open as well, as a means of attracting other interested parties and joining/contributing to the broader conversation on the issues.
    Again, thanks for sharing some of the specifics. It looked like comments (replies) to original posts were not being rated, and I wondered why.
    -Joel Galbraith

  2. So what is *in* the water up there in State College that you keep coming up with this fantastic experiments and implementations?

    I think I glanced at the Pligg site when you may have tweeted it, but am now looking at it in light of how it makes the blogging so much more “miscellaneous” in a Weinberger sense.

    For those who have read blogs for some time, or even are accustomed to following web sites, we think of moving form oen to another, and then staying within the fence of one blog as we read content (of course links make it easy to jump the fence), but it is still a structure of reading from one source than another.

    But here, you are making it all more fluid, yes chaotic, but we see different ideas mingling in the same space.

    Eager to see how this plays out, go Penn State!

  3. Joel … thanks for the comments. The idea of letting students “own” their content is appealing to me in ways I am still working out in my head. We are still working some things out, but it is clear if we are going to promote the blog platform we have to make it easier of faculty and students to discover the content from the far corners of the PSU web.

  4. Alan … I am loving the month of comments from you … lets me engage in deeper discussions. This week is the first that the Pligg site is beginning to come together. What is really astonishing is how it seems to be impacting the face to face sessions. Students appear more motivated and prepared to have conversations around the themes of the course. I’m not sure it is the Pligg site, but the fact that they are reading their peers’ comments, and then deciding which ones to vote on is an interesting twist to all of it.

    Sure you could easily create a blog reading list in google reader, but the notion of ratings and community seem to give this a leg up. I think I mentioned to you sometime in the last month that we feel “integration” is the next big thing on campus, so you’ll be seeing more ideas that work to bring all of the small pieces of the web 2.0 learning world into some central focus — and I am not talking about the next generation LMS.

    Thanks again for the comments and keep watching, this is going to be fun!

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