It is taking a lot longer than I had anticipated setting students up with the software and accounts I want to use in class. Students are simply not accustomed to blogging, creating accounts, creating profiles, the difference (in privacy and exposure) between a subscription-only Yahoo!Group and a completely public blog.
Last week, it took 90 minutes to get (most of) the students set up with a Yahoo!Group membership and their own blog (and hence Google account).
Yesterday’s class objectives were
a) to post something on their own blog (have they remembered their Google ID? Their password?)
b) to create a Bloglines account (I considered using Google Reader, as they all have a Google account already, but I could not find a way to do it on the Google Japan page. I was in a hurry and not in the best condition, as I have since found how to do it.),
then c) add their classmates’ blogs to their bloglines reader.
then d) visit their classmates’ blogs (or read them in Bloglines) and leave a commment on at least 1 of them.
I plan to use the blogs for sharing news stories and comments on those news stories; the Yahoo!Groups will be for sharing reflections and comments on the class itself, including problems and difficulties. I hope to have students who’ve discovered through their mistakes, for instance, what to do when you’ve forgotten your password, or how to find your blog when you’ve forgotten the URL, write help files (hopefully flash movies, but that’s asking too much at first) which we’ll store in Yahoo!Group’s “files” section.
I’m hoping that the existence and use of the Yahoo!Group will
a) help them see how their blogs could be used in a similar way to share information with their community/class,
b) prompt them to learn from each other, rather than just from the instructor; and hopefully to see how the technology makes learning from each other simple, quick and preferable to an environment where the instructor is the source of knowledge (certainly of the knowledge that matters).