Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Virtual Learning & Training: From Classrooms to Communities

Track E, Teaching: Technologies & Approaches

Virtual Learning & Training: Teaching and Learning with Drupal

Meredith Farkas @librarianmer

In-person classes get lost in translation to online courses. Web 2.0 ideas help some of these issues - participation, wisdom of crowds vs. Sage on the stage. It's also a familiar medium for two-way communication because people are using it for many other things. Drupal blogs website brings everything together in one place, no risk of losing or deleting things. It builds a sense of ownership over the medium. Fantastic for community building, it's a more human/informal medium where they feel like they can be themselves. Allows for reflective learning, discussion and debate. Requires writing for public audience, can result in dialogue with outsiders. Makes everyone both a teacher and a learner.

Blogging at the American University in Cairo
Joan Pettis (Portland State U.) @joanpdx

Working with students who are very under-prepared, no prior library or research experience. Old course was making a difference but not enough of one, changes included:
  • Started using a wiki instead of WebCT
  • Made class easier to pass but strict attendance required, it was all about gaining skills
  • Implemented blogging for students
Project was a near disaster because of not-so-simple WordPress technology, more work for librarians. However, students loved it!

Lessons learned:
  • looking good on paper isn't enough
  • take advantage of key moments (times of stress/confusion might be good for change)
  • own your disasters
  • the most exciting technology isn't always the best for users
  • "ill considered ideas hastily implemented can be a great success"

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