More Twitter Stuff

By now if you’ve either shown up here at the blog or talked to me you know I am nearly consumed by Twitter. Not in a way that is destructive, but in a “I wonder how this thing can do good, not evil” sort of way. Yesterday morning I tried something new … For some reason I decided to head over to one of my colleagues sites to see what was new and saw that he had added a link to his newly created Twitter page. He didn’t just have the link, he added a little commentary saying that “Big Brother Begins.”

Dave Twitter

Seeing that I decided to see if I could create an opportunity for engagement … I quickly created a very short post over at the ETS Blog space asking if Twitter is Big Brother. From there I simply sent out a quick Twitter asking for my friends to respond to a post over at the ETS site.

Twitter Question

I know it didn’t create a ton of conversation on the blog, but it did in real life. I will say that within 10 minutes two people responded and posted comments from my Twitter network. What I wanted to see was if Twitter could spark (and perhaps encourage) discussion in another form. It has me wondering how students would react to similar stimuli … you know, ring the Twitter bell and see if they respond the way you’ve conditioned them. Maybe ask an instant poll via Twitter (like Brad did yesterday) as class is ending and see what you come up. Like I said, I am really interested in how this shakes down for good, not evil. I am interested in how this type of quick, casual conversation can create an opportunity for a larger conversation. Does anyone see potential?

My New Course Design … Come on In

So I’ve been writing about designing a course in the open over the last few weeks … well, I have actually been designing a new residentcourse that I hope to next Fall. I didn’t do it in a wiki, but did use Drupal 5 to post the initial design. It isn’t 100% complete, but the schedule is well rounded and there are a handful of solid assignments that are both new and from the IST 110 days. I would love to get your feedback on the whole thing … it is over at the Course Design Site. I did a quick podcast today explaining a little of the philosophy behind the whole thing, so that is available to listen to as well. I am still trying to figure out the login and account stuff in Drupal 5, so that may be a little flaky for the moment — I am basically terrified of spam and have it locked down until I have some time in the next few days to really work with that.

The real idea is to expose the course in this format for the community to comment on and help shape … I will then use the same site to teach the course from, give students blogs there, and continue to build on this foundation over time. If you have ideas, thoughts, or anything else just leave a comment here, or there. Thanks!

Design in a Wiki

I have been thinking lately about how we use wikis for all sorts of document and collaborative design. Back in the day when I was regularly involved in first designing and then managing the design of eLearning courses we used our own custom solutions for storing content and managing teamwork. The big tool we used at IST to build and manage the Online IST courses was the Digital Design Document (D3) … it was a FileMaker Pro application that allowed teams of people to easily create and manage course content, team communication, work-flow, storyboards, and more in one easy to use collaborative environment. It worked well for how we used it and it saved us tons of time when it came to actually delivering a course. One of the nice things about D3 was its ability to publish a 600 screen course in seconds so that it could be coupled with ANGEL or whatever other course management system we were using.

The thing that made it perfect was the collaborative capabilities. What we never attempted to do with D3 was just open the tool to the learners and the faculty — in other words, the design team managed the tool and the content in it. What the learner and ultimately the instructor saw was the output … they only interacted with the static pages. No way to edit, no way to update, and certainly no way to contribute to the knowledge on the page. Today we have come to expect collaborative tools as part of the work flow — wikis, books in Drupal, multi user blogs, Google Docs, and so on have become the norm. What I wondering is if you could use a wiki to not only design your course, but then deliver it in that environment as well. If you have a team of people designing the instruction, would it be prudent to allow students to not only interact with the desired content on screen but also see the design team’s notes on the same pages? Would that lead to great learning opportunities?

I am designing a new course and will be attempting to do just that. I will be putting all of the readings that I create, all the assignments for the students, and everything else in the course (from the syllabus to the final assessment) into a wiki and letting my students edit, tweak, adjust, and add to the course along the way. If I ask them to respond to a reading, I will want them to do it in the wiki so that every student’s response becomes another learning opportunity for the next set of students who take the course. In the back of my head it is almost like creating an Intranet for the course that the whole world can see.

I am wondering who out there has done this and what I need to watch out for? Are there things anyone would recommend? Final question … if I do this would people outside the course contribute content? Sort of a social experiment in course design … if there is a topic in the course I am weak in, could I count on others to come in and contribute to the course design? Am I crazy (don’t answer that one)?

The META Blog

I am getting really excited about the potential for our PSU Blog Project … just last week we made some significant progress that I am hoping will lead us to the potential of a pilot for the Spring — maybe a specialized call for a series of Engagement Projects. What is great about that is the fact that I am teaching and could use our environment to support my efforts. I’m working on a post that will highlight parts of the PSU Blog solution … for now I have a question.

If I give all my students blogs in the new PSU space I will want to aggregate all their posts into one META Blog for the class. I know it can be done, but what is the easiest way to pull it off? Anyone have advice for me?

Rip, Mix, Burn Classroom Podcasting …

I had posted last week about the idea of students taking ownership of the podcasting process in the classroom based on an article I came across.  I had mentioned it was an intersting twist of fate that they would be the ones not only recording, but editing, posting, and distributing the lectures that way.  This morning I awoke to find a very interesting comment from James pushing the notion that it may be the natural evolution of the whole concept.  His comments really got me thinking differently about how to provide the right types of lecture based podcasts in my class (and beyond).

I think what James said pushes us to look at the classroom experience in a new light … most of us talk about creating a “student-centric” opportunity, but in most cases it ends up being a lot of push to them … with a significant amount of pull thrown in, but not a true two way street.  James wewnt on to say, “I actually think the idea of students editing portions of a lecture may be something that is ultimately encouraged especially if the student does this appropriately (audio citation?) as a way to further develop the ideas that are brought to life in the class.”  So I think I may have come across a wonderful new approach to try out in class … encourage students to produce versions of my lectures as they see fit.  What would be so wrong with them taking the basic lecture recording, editing out the nonsense, maybe adding in supplemental material, and cutting in their reactions?  If I can figurre out how to do it right, it would be an amazing learning opportunity.

Simple Twist of Fate

Not the Dylan rendition of the song of by that title, but a pointer to an interesting read over at the Edupodder blog, “Revolution from the edge: students posting class recordings“. Going into the whole Podcasting for Penn State, we never really thought the content would be posted by students. It only makes sense as they become more and more savvy with today’s web publishing tools that they will engage in this type of behavior. I wonder how it will feel when the tables are turned? I post my class lectures as podcasts because I think they belong to me … but if you listen carefully you’ll hear students talking. Doesn’t that make them ours?

Going forward I am curious as to how this will play out. Will faculty be ok with this notion? A lecture recorded, maybe even edited, by the students for the students. Should I get to sign a release form? How does this change the notion of the commercial “note trade” that goes on at major Universities? Is there a new business model in here? Podcast Notes … hmm.

Common Sense

In a quick read of one of my new favorites, Fred Stutzman lays out some common sense advice for students’ use of the FaceBook. Just a good read — and if you are teaching in a place where students are using the FB, send them this link.