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
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
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
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.