Step 4: Sharing the [Web 2.0] Love

Trialling “Web 2.0 on the go” is not for the faint-hearted. This week was a major struggle to get through what needed to be done, with numerous problems along the way.

Most days, it feels like I am trying to drive a Lamborghini through the scrub. Each computer is different, each lecture theatre is different, each class a new problem to overcome.

The best move was to get all tutorial classes into computer labs. I am not sure how this will work out later once we are in full swing, but in the meantime, this week all students are signed up to the blog, have made at least one blog post and shared at least one media article on the topic for next week’s submission.

My plan is to develop a model for teaching using Web 2.0 tools that does not require staff to be ICT experts. There is a lot of talk about online and blended learning and incorporating Web 2.0 technologies in higher education, but there is very little in terms of policy, support, even clear legal opinion on copyright issues, duty of care for students in an online quasi/semi-public environment and so on to guide the trailblasers.

Next week, I will be running a workshop on how to use blogs and wikis as assessment items for staff at the University of Canberra. I am doing this as part of the development of our new Winter Term where I am a member of the UC Hothouse (see also the Tumblr blog).

Next week’s workshop will incorporate the following lessons learned:
  • Use computer labs for all tutorial classes unless you have documented or video recorded the complete instructions. Don’t believe the hype about digital natives - they don’t know it all about Web 2.0 and there will be lots of hand-holding.
  • Students hardly ever read their student emails. You will have to add at least half of the class to the blog manually because they don’t know how to do it.
  • Students don’t follow instructions. If you use the Firefox Portable set up I made available in an earlier post, students will forget to use it the next day. Many are unaware of how to add shortcuts to their desktops and many other simple skills shortages which will surprise you.
  • Google Blogger requires character recognition confirmation when there are a large number of blog posts. Students will become very frustrated because nobody can ever get these right the first time.
  • Google blogger will only allow up to 100 authors for a single blog. This one would be easy to overlook.
  • For the media sharing assignment, I have decided to ask students to write a summary of the article they are sharing. This has forced them to read the article, and I require them to comment on the accuracy of their colleagues summaries to make them read these articles, too. This means that each week, students will read three media articles relevant to the subject area. This will be three more media articles than many of them will read in a typical semester.
  • Use the tech-savvy students to help you in class. This gives them a great ego boost, and encourages the students to help each other. Once one “gets it”, other soon “get it” and a domino effect occurs.
  • Assume nothing, but don’t be discouraged. Once this week is finished, you will see that the digital natives really know how to use this stuff once they know how to use it. But you have to give them the kick-start. The students have started reporting how much they like the subject already!