Man, what a semester … I actually can’t believe that it is all the same one that started back in September. My life was turned upside down this semester due to a career move and the class was sort of a little lower on my overall priority list … but, at the end of the day, it was a great group of students who provided me with wonderful results. Central to my approach this semester was the multi user blog space. The space was powered by Drupal … I have mixed feelings on the whole thing. On one hand, giving students their own space provided for a rich environment … on the other hand, it can become a bit difficult to navigate. Tough to really call.
For my class a year ago, I used a single user blogging environment — at the time it was simply a blogger space. That was a good use of the technology at the time … students couldn’t start posts, only comment to the ones I did. I seemed to actually get better conversations going that way. The down side was the overall lack of extended functionality that type of an environment provided me. The Drupal space gave me wiki style pages, team areas, spaces for students to attach files, and post their own ideas. It will be a difficult decision on what to use next semester.
I am actually leaning towards a WordPress blog, a set of wiki pages, Edison Services, and parts of ANGEL … sort of an extension of the small pieces concept paired with a healthy dose of large parts â€¦ If that makes any sense at all. Regardless of what it is, I’ll be thinking out loud here … for now, jump over to this semester’s blog space and take a peek at some of the things we did.
Last night was the first day of class … we actually did a ton of stuff for the first day thing. I am sorry my posts have been few and far between — and completely focused on the course, but I have been working at trying some very different things this semester, so its been like designing a course from the ground up.
At any rate, the students all did hands on stuff — we got bloglines accounts, setup del.icio.us accounts for everyone (decided on a class tag), and they got into the blogs@110 and posted their first post. We went over how to subscribe to feeds and how to create custom ones in the blogs … I think a good majority got it and may even use some of this stuff all semester. I’ll be posting thoughts about the course and the progress here from time to time … I will also try to get back to writing about other stuff on a regular basis, but for now I will be posting over at the blogs@110.
After a little drama over my classroom was taken care of, I have been spending some time getting my course site setup. I am calling the space, the Blogs@110 … not sure what else to call it. Right now I have a basic shell of stuff put together and all my students have accounts (even if they don’t know it yet). Given the fact class actually starts Tuesday at 6 PM, I need toget the rest hammered out. Yikes. At any rate, the site is up and running, so go take a look … Oh, and let me know what you think.
So I am teaching IST 110 again this fall … its not that I am tired of the course, its just that at the moment, I am not sure I have the energy to really focus on it. The course has been redesigned so there is a little extra challenge in it for me. There are so many amazing things going on around here at the moment … killer projects, great new ideas, three new people starting, new strategic directions, and some amazing partnerships. All of these things are making me rather excited about the fall … teaching a night class is not up there.
But, with that said, I just had an amazing time teaching at the Governor’s School and really came up with some new ways to shift my class. I will be doing the basics of 110, but have decided to continue my theme of Web 2.0 at the core. I will be asking my students to do some (hopefully) interesting things with some interesting technologies. I will once again use the class blog for the primary communication area, but will extend it to give each their own accounts and spaces. I will be doing quite a bit of podcasting — both my own and expecting them to produce a bunch. I will be testing my enclosure bundles with them as well! I’ll use digital video again so they can communicate their solutions in ways beyond text — and I think I will do a little more of it. They will be blogging their own thoughts on a weekly basis, responding to weekly discussion activities, and posting reflections of class, speakers, guests, and things going on in the world. They will read a combination of Online IST topics, articles, and pieces of the Cluetrain Manifesto to build the building blocks of the course content. Also new this semester, I will introduce them to social bookmarking. I’ll be asking them to create their own repository of resources that they will share with the class and do peer reviews of how the sites are related to the course content and to think about why people used the tags they did. Oh, and I will be giving them a large problem assignment — probably the PSU alumni site challenge I used at Gov School.
All in all I want to do a ton with them. I want it to be fun, hard, interesting, and engaging … maybe not in that order, but fun has to be number one. I hope I can find a way to pull all that off without blowing their minds. It is a freshman course after all. At any rate, these are early ideas — semester starts on August 30th, so it is time to get jacked up. Anyone have any thoughts for me? I’ll post a link to my syllabus as it goes live.