A #networkedcourse

The summer of 2012 was transformational.  The summer Olympics were held in London, England.  The US witnessed one of the hottest summers on record.  The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars.  Carley Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was the official summer anthem.  And campers everywhere flocked to Camp Magic Macguffin for a summer of hijinx, mystery, and animated GIFs.

DS106 was my first exposure to a networked course.  It was a class that demanded participation in the community through a host of creative assignments, tweeting, blogging, reading/comments on the blogs of others, and animated GIFs, animated GIFs, animated GIFs!

Dr. Amy Nelson lead a workshop called Networking Your Hybrid Humanities Course on the last day of AltFest.  Several of Dr. Nelson’s classes are hybrid classes.  Students meet face-to-face, but they also spend time analyzing and interacting with primary sources.  The syllabus for the fall 2014 Russian History course emphasizes the role of the student in defining the class….


“Much  of  this  work  will  take  place  in  a  networked  learning  environment,  which  will  use blogging,  Twitter,  and  other  learning
technologies  to  construct,  elaborate  and  refine  the  contours  and content  of  the  course.”


And the goals for blogging…


The  blogging assignments  are  intended  to  leverage  the  freely accessible  resources  of  the World  Wide  Web as well as the digitized collections  of  the  Virginia  Tech  libraries  in  order  to:
o Develop  your  skills  in  historical  analysis
o Develop  your  skills  identifying,  using  and  citing  historical  sources
o Develop  understanding  of  the  key  developments  and  dynamics  of  Soviet History


Nelson commented that she worried students would have nothing to say in the classroom if they took their took their discussions online via blog posts and comments.  However, that wasn’t the case.  Classroom discussions were so rich that one student wished they had notes of the dialogue taking place.  Thanks to Google Docs and student volunteers, archived class notes were born.
The comments on students’ blogs feed into the class mother blog so conversations are easily followed.  Students and readers don’t have to go to each individual blog to see what’s discussed.
Screenshot of comments on the mother blog

Screenshot of comments on the mother blog

Sometimes a class can have over 30 students, which means over 30 blogs, which means over 30 posts to read and leave comments.  Nelson has an editorial board in place to help with comments.  This team also selects the posts that appear in the coveted Editor’s Choice spot.  Students on the editorial board also contribute to the body of knowledge the class creates over the semester.  You can read a couple of examples here and here

The Editor's Choice slider

The Editor’s Choice slider

Selections for the slider are posted (in a perfect world) every Wednesday during a semester.  Nelson said she notices an uptick in traffic on Wednesday afternoons.  Students check out the mother blog to see what posts have been chosen for the week.

Dr. Nelson builds courses that are engaging and participatory.  She and her students leverage the best the web has to offer.  They make use of open educational resources.  They share their analysis and thinking in the open through their blogs and comments.

You can find links to student blogs, blog post guidelines, mother blogs, archived class notes, and more on this Google Doc.

1 thought on “A #networkedcourse

  1. Thanks so much for highlighting this #networked course format! I am always looking for ways to help students leverage the web to incorporate high-value openly accessible resources as well as more specialized databases provided by the library, and having the support of Indie Librarians for that piece is a huge plus.

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