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Web Communication Tools (course 2010-11)

November 16, 2010

Web Communication Tools is a new subject I’m teaching in second year of Modern Languages and Humanities at the University of Deusto, and it is the first time I do it under the new format adapted to the Bologna model.

As it is mentioned in the syllabus (for this course 2010-11)

[The main objective is to learn] how to make the best of alternative tools to email for web communication, such as social networks, blogs, forums, microblogging and wikis.

The potential of web communication tools in Education has persuasively been put forward by Andy Carvin (from NPR). However, implementing them in the classroom is not an easy job. Almost 100 students are registered in my course and reviewing their practical assignments and grading them in time is extremely complicated. 😦

For this reason, we are going to try self and peer evaluation (on top of the general and final assessment that I, in my condition of official judge, will have to carry out both during the course and at the end of it).

Now we are half way through the semester and I have just collected the first self-evaluation forms. As expected, students are too generous with their own work. But now at least they understand better what is what they have to do and will be capable of evaluating their peers.  But before we go into that, it is time to revise the evaluation elements (aka assessment rubric) and to consider some adjustments.

The course started with an introduction to social networks (in our case Facebook). We set up a page and a questionnaire which students had to answer through notes in their user accounts. There were 10 questions, ranging from privacy settings to link management. The practical deserves a post on its own because of the big amount of features we have discovered while using Facebook’s configuration settings and other functionalities.

The second topic has been microblogging (and we are using Twitter for that). I suggested the hashtag #wct1011 and students started to send their comments and opinions (and it become local trending topic for some weeks). I’ve asked them to publish more than 100 tweets by the end of the semester. Since the exercise was almost new for the majority of them, I had to include a tempting definition of what are good and poor tweets. It has not been strait-forward to get students make good contributions or make them take part of interesting conversations. There are little spontaneous replays or retweets. Tweets have been mostly for sharing links, but unlike previous years,  little class-broadcasting has taken place; probably because I didn’t mention such possibility, which as Greg Ferenstein has pointed out helps “broden students participation in lecture”.

Now students are working on their first blog post (we are using WordPress). Afeter setting up our blog accounts (last week) now they have to produce their first “almost-publishable” draft, which after getting my aproval, will go into the collective blog LitteraMedia. I agree with Anne Mirtschin in that blogging is a very formative activity. I introduced it in the classroom in 2003-04. I’ve learned that it is hard to maintain; even more difficult now that we have microblogs  and Facebook walls. For this is the reason, we will share a collective blog instead of working on individual ones.

The last practical will be with wikis (i.e. MediaWiki in our case). Students will work on two wiki-pages, one will have the  structure of a technical report and the second one will consist of a compilation of classroom notes from other subjects. It will be a good exercise of peer collaboration, of the type we used to have when I was a student (and a member of  those old class-notes commissions).


Originally posted at Translema. Please, follow the link if you want to make a comment.

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