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Learning Spaces (Feb 17)

February 15th, 2010 by Kasey Powers Leave a reply »

When reading about CMS, and from what I’ve heard from people who use blackboard, I get the impression that they don’t really work. Pulling from my discipline of television, CMS kind of reminds me of the problem of putting educational content into entertainment, it doesn’t always fit seemlessly, and when the education is shoved in to the story to meet a standard you end up with something that is neither educational or entertaining. CMS seems like it often has a similar problem where no one really likes it or knows how to use it, and it becomes a redundant tool, with the exception of a few items. My first introduction to blackboard was a few years ago when I took a class where all grades were posted on it. I spent a few weeks trying to figure out where this “blackboard” was before a classmate finally explained. The teacher never gave an introduction, assuming that all students were aware of the class system. In order for CMS to really work both teacher and students need to be able to work together to use a tool that seemlessly integrates to the course.

The article on RSS feeds goes along with the CMS information, in that if the tools aren’t used, they are useful. Courses like ours, to help teachers integrate these types of tools are necessary. Even in our course there is a learning curve to using the technology. It is so easy to revert to “traditional” learning methods.

Crowd-sourced grading is an interesting concept. In some ways I think it mirrors how I felt grades were moving toward the end of high school. A’s were becoming common and expected, and moving to the standard. If you did all the work well, then you got an A. Teachers were still grading everything, however, many of our daily assignments were checked off for completion or trade and grade.

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4 comments

  1. I’m using http://www.mycomplab.com

    And it’s not really difficult to use for my students, it’s just that it’s expensive as it comes along with a $65 textbook and if students buy the book online the mycomplab registration code most of the time isn’t included.

    I chose it because I liked the textbook better than the one I was using and I wanted a one-stop program that would display documents without going into Word, that allowed for in-text comments and peer review, and that had some basic resources. It’s a “walled garden” but I personally find it very convenient and it doesn’t infringe on my email. What do you and Kimon use?

    Current textbook:

    http://www.amazon.com/Little-Brown-Compact-Handbook-Exercises/dp/0205651704/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266780233&sr=8-1

    Last semester:

    http://www.amazon.com/Writers-Resource-comb-bound-Update-Student/dp/0073383775/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266780321&sr=1-1

  2. @Kasey I think that the OLN article we read made a pretty convincing case that CMSs privilege the administrative functions of standard teaching environments (gradebooks, attendance, the semester schedule, etc) at the expense of other, more creative and open possibilities. So, while CMSs do present an often inflexible, standard system, what’s even more problematic about them is that they fail in fundamental ways to consider the ways in which digital environments fundamentally reconfigure the learning process.

    @dale As I mentioned in class, you should think about creating a blog on the Commons (or on Blogger or WordPress.com) so that you can play around with RSS feeds related to your class and/or your interests. You can also explore the world of RSS Readers and/or RSS Aggregation services like PageFlakes or Netvibes. Please let me know whether you have any questions.

    @Sarah Can you remind us of the CMS you had your students buy? And what was your process for choosing it? What did you and/or your students like or not like about it?

  3. Well after informally polling my students most of them preferred a CMS where they turned in work and received feedback online as opposed to the traditional “hard copy” system. Actually most of my students hate all of the clutter of hard copies. My first semester teaching I didn’t use a CMS and my students actually complained about how BB made things much easier. However, paradoxically, I scared a lot of students away this semester by using a closed source CMS that they had to purchase along with their textbook. So open source does seem to work better.

  4. dale says:

    So that’s what RSS is all about. The article on RSS was really helpful in clearing up quite a bit of ignorance on that topic. I can see how it might be useful in helping students improve or practice their reading and writing in a digital space. However, I will have to practice with it first to get a better sense of what this technology really offers in terms of theory and praxis. It is really difficult for so many of us to integrate technology into our teaching and learning. More study and research probably need to be done to figure what the hurdles are and how they can be transformed into teachable moments or spaces-for teachers.

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