Monday, March 29, 2010

Building a Community - More Ramblings on my Virtual Course

As I discussed in my last post, I'm creating an online course for this summer (2010).

My entire course is being created in Google Sites. The largest hurdle I'm struggling with currently is how I will build a sense of community in this virtual environment. Students will each create a blog of sorts using the Announcement template in Sites. This is where they will turn in all their homework and post updates of their progress. I haven't decided whether these should be private, just me and the student, open to the whole class, or open to the world.

If the blogs are totally private it will be harder for students to copy off one another, but it will also be harder for students to solicit help from one another. I'm a huge fan of students answering each other's questions. If I do make the student logs private should I open them up at the end of the course?

I am also looking into using Google Groups as a way for students to interact with one another. In this way they could ask questions of each other, but I don't think they can post pictures or screenshots which might make it a bit difficult. If I did this then all student to student interaction could easily be kept private from the outside world, if I decided to open up the blogs.

In the past I've also used Ning with my classes, but I don't want to add another login into the mix. Right now we'll be using the login for our Google Apps domian and a second login for grades posted to Edline. With two different logins to keep track of I don't want to require a third.

Any recommendations?


Anonymous said...

Pictures can be loaded to Google groups, it's just not your usual fb style interface. It uses an area called files and if the file is of a photo it shows a thumbnail.

spongy said...

Google groups can save photos, they appear under files as a thumbnail and if you use Firefox your passwords will save to a document on your local machine so that you dont have to remember them. Whats the course on? You should make the process you are going through the topic.

Steve said...

Thanks for the comments. I haven't really played with Google Groups much.

The course is Physical Computing.

Unknown said...

I've struggled with the issue of students copying othere's code. In the end I decided to let them see everyone elses's code in the spirit of openness.

I tell my students they need to know what the code does and that I'll be checking to see if they just copied and pasted someone else's work. But in the real world I often use other people's code for reference or in chunks. Looking at how other people solved problems is a good learning practice as well.