proliferating educational technologies

I’m in the midst of planning for a hybrid composition course for next semester. My colleague Vicki Boynton and I will both be teaching hybrid sections, and our plan is to teach roughly the same course. We are working within the constraints of our CPN program, which is not terribly limiting but is a pain nonetheless. I can’t say that I abide by its governing logics.

But anyway, right now I feel a little at sea in our various technological options.

  • Web CT: note my recent objections (along with many, many others) to Blackboard, now owners of Web CT. However, this is the CMS I have to work with, and I need a secure way to accept assignments and grade online. So I will use it for these purposes, and these purposes only.
  • Movable Type: a course blog, which will be public. Students can set their screen names so they are not identifiable to the public if they choose. The blog will be for informal time-sensitive conversation, for questions, and course announcements.
  • Wiki: here is where the majority of informal writing will take place. Since the idea of the wiki is collective authorship, the idea here will be to explore revision and editing as a communal practice. The wiki thing is still new to me, so it’s a work in progress as far as I’m concerned.
  • iTunes U: as I’ve discussed, the idea is to share media files and make the easily accessible for download to iPods. Vicki and I plan to do some instructional audio and video (to dispense with any need to spend FTF time lecturing).

To create a seamless feel to all this business, I hate to say it, but Web CT is probably the place I’ll start. For one reason, the students use it in other classes, so it gives them a kind of "official space" feel that might make them more comfortable. Second, because Web CT is frames driven, I can load anything into the lower frame. As such, I can link to the blog or the wiki or the wiki login page within the frame of Web CT. This will make things more cohesive I hope. iTunes U then will be the only thing that is outside, since it uses the iTunes application.

As for assignments, the constraints of the program mean that I have to do at least two formal text-based assignments, with at least one assignment including outside research. So that’s what I’m doing. In addition, I’m doing a number of informal assignments, which will get turned in on Web CT but also probably put up on the wiki.

Here I’m thinking of asking students to do some audio responses and some visual responses. We might do a simple Garage Band enhanced podcast. We have Comic Life, so the students could take digital pictures and make a little cartoon. I don’t think we’ll go so far as to do video this semester.

I don’t want to overload on too much tech, right? Yeah, right.

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