This is the exciting tag line you might customize!
This is the exciting tag line you might customize!
Voice-oriented sites provide blogs for faculty, students, and student groups. But just calling them “blogs” actually understates what’s really happening. It’s a personal publishing to develop their own digital identity and portfolio. These are effectively e-portfolios. These sites enable faculty and students to develop their own authentic voice on the open World Wide Web. The content is that of the authors. They own it. They control it. They can even easily take all of their content and migrate it to a different host that they choose or to a different domain name they own. It’s their voice.
Our neighbors in town, Michigan State University, has started their own Domains of One’s Own project similar to ours to provide 21st century publishing platforms for their scholars. Here’s Dean Long of MSU explaining the concept of crafting your own digital scholarly presence.
21st century liberal, engaged learning is about making connections. Mizuko Ito refers to “connected learning” as learning and activities that are
socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity. Connected learning is realized when a young person pursues a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link learning and interest to academic achievement, career possibilities, or civic engagement.
The Web enables students, faculty, and staff to make connections easier then ever: connections with other people, connections with other ideas, and connections across all of their learning activities. Indeed, the essence of integrated general education is helping students to make connections between what they learn in different classes. It’s hard to make connections and integrate ideas when each class is experienced as separate, silo-ed, time-limited event built around the traditional 16 week small classroom.
The LCC Open Learning Lab enables and is creating new designs for sites that enable faculty, staff, groups, and students – all the members of the LCC scholarly community – to create connections.
Among the examples we’re working on:
Students are not just passive consumers of information. Integrated liberal education requires students to become active creators of their own work and their own learning. Thus, one of the most important High Impact Practices in higher education is the concept of the Signature Work. In addition, David Wiley in explaining how OER leads to Open Pedagogy has also identified the concept and importance of authentic assignments which stand in contrast to the older concept of disposable assignments. Finally, regardless of whether they are transfer oriented students or students in a career-focused program, students need to do assignments that prepare them for the actual work they will do in the next phases of their careers.
The Open Learn Lab is pioneering in developing websites and pedagogical designs to support students ability to create. In several Writing classes, Professors Leslie Johnson, Carol Kendy, and Nichole Biber have pioneered with sites we’ve helped to develop. These sites are what we playfully call “SPLAT’s” for Single Purpose Learning Assignment Thingies. It’s a similar concept to the SPLOT’s that were developed last year at Thompson Rivers University in BC by Brian Lamb and Alan Levine. In a SPLAT, students in complete a writing assignment by writing a post or page on a public website instead of submitting the traditional paper-based document or MS Word-based document file. Traditional assignments tend to be disposable assignments in Wiley’s terms, meaning students don’t take them as seriously, they have difficulties imagining or writing for an audience different from the professor, and know that nobody but the prof will likely ever read what they write. Instead, in a SPLAT, the student learns to write for the open Web. They become a “published author” with potentially real readers beyond the classroom and the writing itself lasts longer. The prototype for our SPLAT’s is an assignment developed by Leslie Johnson for the Transforming Learning Through Teaching faculty development course in the CTE. This site is called 400 Words after the capstone assignment for faculty to write a 400 word essay about an experience with a student that illustrates teaching and the college mission. (warning there are some awesome stories at 400 Words! – some may move you to tears).
In one of our latest creations, we’ve created a syndicated course hub for BIOL 125 taught by Meg Elias. Each student has their own blog website on Voice.Openlcc.net. The complete some course sites by creating posts on their blogs. Those posts, already publicly available material, are then copied/syndicated into the course hub automatically so all students can read each others’ posts. This connected course design is an example of how student blogs, which are essentially e-portfolios, can be integrated with course assignments.
Two directions we’re currently working on are real-world writing environments and integrated, across-courses SPLAT’s.
An example of a real-world writing assignment is one we’re helping to develop for Mindy Wilson. Professor Wilson teaches a biology laboratory-based course for students who will likely become biology lab techs in modern research laboratories. Historically lab technicians have always kept written lab notes in a paper notebook. And that’s the way it’s been taught. But in the real world today, modern corporate labs don’t use paper notebooks. Real-world lab techs keep their notes in online content mgt systems. We are working to develop a WordPress-based design that can mimic the kind of online systems technicians will likely use after graduation. In the class, students will write their notes online in the lab using this WordPress Open Learn Lab site. As we refine this site, the structure should be such that we can relatively easily adapt the concept and site to other courses where students face writing tasks online in the real world.
The other direction we’re working on is using SPLAT’s for integrated general education. The concept here would be that two professors in different courses, say a writing course and a science course, could use the same writing assignment using the same SPLAT. The two professors could use different rubrics to assess the same assignment. In this way students get to write on subjects meaningful to them and they connect the writing instruction with the science instruction.