Success with a MOOC/PLE approach in Weblogs and Wikis last spring was mixed – ok, lackluster. It created some management problems for me that prevented the kind of rss aggregation and re-distribution that I was hoping for. But more significantly, the approach as I implemented it didn’t provide enough scaffolding and guidance. Students had too many options and so took few of them. The materials they produced were interesting, really interesting, but that production was so diverse that it made synthesizing generalizations difficult. We never really reached a critical mass. I still like the weekly set of readings and tasks, but need to help students get on to them more quickly and posting more frequently. Better six short posts that build than one long post that wraps up what never got started. It’s a workflow thing.
So, this semester, the same idea of PLE and even MOOC principles – but more guided in reading, viewing, listening, and more guided activities. Two texts: Jill Rettberg, and not a wiki text this time but Paul Levinson, New New Media. Levinson’s book is very much in the bloggy X-Factor realm: It’s all about Paul in the center of the social media sphere. Makes reading it annoying, but blog-like. Levinson sets aside the typical scholarly distancing (good) but does so less by getting in close to the subject (Shirky does that) so much as focusing on his position. The up side is that he touches on topics I’m trusting I can help students sink their teeth into: Facebook, the Dark Side, Twitter, Digg, and maybe SL.
Readings and tasks: I will set these pretty firmly so we can compare notes on Monday and Wednesdays, then taper off on meetings to just Mondays as online interaction picks up or as students start taking on their own 5 – 7 week projects. Yes: Still including a self-designed project, this time to explore a social media phenomenon as suggested by Rettberg, Levinson, or me.
What else? Removing the requirement for social bookmarking, but may have students join Digg. Lots of posting – and requiring the use of the #en3177 tag. Students are on their own for setting up their blog, Twitter account, Digg account, etc. I’ll introduce these in class, but simply assign getting signed up and started. Make it an activity, with the assignment to post about X, Y, and Z to kick everything off.