Creating Community #digped

Our afternoon session at the Digital Pedagogy Lab today focused on using digital environments to support student learning communities.  I promised a couple of people I would post / tweet references for the blogging guidelines and course websites where my students have come together to create rich learning environments that outlived the chronological parameters of the semester and the physical confines of the classroom.  So here goes:

This is the syllabus for the second iteration of “Deep History and Domestication” (which prompted the reference to “dinosaur afterlives”).  As I mentioned today, this course was my first foray into networked and connected learning. Gardner Campbell gave me the inspiration to try something new, and my students showed me how incredibly powerful, fun, and effective such endeavors could be.

These are the Soviet History courses that extended the networked component of the Deep History and Domestication format to include class-sourcing the majority of the content and supporting students’ use of proprietary databases as well as openly accessible high-value sources on the web.

A couple of people asked about the mechanisms for framing and supporting vibrant student interaction in these online environments.  Here’s an excerpt from the blogging instructions for Deep history:

While this syllabus provides a road map to the course, a large part of our work together will be constructed, elaborated and refined on the web. I am interested in deepening and expanding on our in-class discussions and research endeavors and hope that this experiment with blogging will help us create the course together in an immediately accessible, professional, enduring and transparent medium.

You are required to blog at least once per week about the assigned readings, and you are required to comment on another person’s blog at least twice per week. There is no assigned length or format for your blogging. I just ask that you engage the readings thoughtfully and substantively, and that you explore and play with the many nuances of the blogging modality. You might comment on the author’s theoretical/methodological framework or relate the assigned text to other readings for the course, other perspectives you have encountered elsewhere, and the thoughts, questions, and responses of your classmates on their blogs. You may also respond to the text’s major arguments in more personal terms, as long as you engage those arguments carefully. Individual blog posts are not graded, but will be considered holistically as evidence of your general commitment to the course and its content.

Guidelines for blogging and commenting in the Soviet History courses are here.  You can also look in the category “blogpost guidelines” for the weekly prompts.

And finally, I’ll note that all of these courses use two blogs — one that aggregates posts from the students’ individual blogs (the main course website), and one that aggregates the comments from all of the students’ blogs.  I pull the second blog through an RSS feed on the main blog so that students can see all of the comments on the main site.  If you really want the deep dive on setting this up, I’ve outlined the process here.

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