It's back to school for us next week and to start off the semester, I'll be giving a presentation to our faculty on how to create a social learning environment in the college classroom. Since I can only cover so much in a 20-minute talk, I've decided to focus my presentation on a conceptual discussion of social learning and cover the how-to aspect in a series of tutorials on this blog.
The idea behind creating a social learning environment is to get students to engage the course material critically and to have them keep their eyes open for interesting material to share with their peers. By having to provide their own examples, students learn to reflect upon course concepts and simultaneously learn to evaluate their peers’ contributions. Such environments allow students to contribute course material and share relevant stories, articles, videos, and pictures in near real-time with both their classmates and instructor around the clock. Although this type of sharing of insights isn’t new, we now have technologies allowing us to do so much more efficiently. My presentation will discuss three technologies instructors can use to set up a social learning space for their classes: (a) Delicious Social Bookmarks, (B) Zoho Creator Databases, and (c) Blackboard Scholar. I have created a tutorial on how to set up each and have embedded them below.
The first tutorial covers setting up Delicious and pulling it into Blackboard through a simple Yahoo Pipe. I have students contribute at least one quality resource a week on a topic discussed in class that week. These contributions can take on the form of relevant news stories, articles, videos, podcasts, or slideshows. We occasionally review these bookmarks in class. During those reviews, students are expected to tell their classmates about the resource and why they think it serves as a good illustration of a particular course concept.
The second tutorial is based on Mike Wesch's 94 articles activity and explains how to set up Zoho Creator databases and how to connect them to Blackboard.
The last tutorial is a brief introduction to Blackboard Scholar, a social bookmarking service offered through Blackboard.