I'm embarking on a particularly exciting personal trial in my senior Health Education class next term. I have been promoting to them all year the benefits of collaboration and persistent communication in development of knowledge. Although I've not yet specifically discussed connectivism or networked knowledge, the concept is becoming familiar to the students.
I am incorporating a number of web technologies to enable greater learning within our group. To do this, I am using a number of tools for specific processes that will increase their interaction with each other in then learning. To the students, learning a new tool will no doubt be exciting, however it is the purpose behind the tool that is important.
Firstly, the course will be outlined on a public Google Calendar. The calendar will identify lesson occurrences and what is to be covered in that lesson. If files are uploaded to web spaces, links will be provided here. My planned absences from the class will also be highlighted. My intention is that during an absence students access the course calendar and relevant files so they can continue to work. Eventually I will open the calendar so the students can edit, adding in their known absences or other important dates I may need to consider.
I will be using Diigo to allow collaborative research. I love the Diigo Educator account, I only wish I had known it was a possibility before I sat the class through signing up. (This is a difficulty at our school as student emails are disabled, and popular webmail blocked by filters.)
I've established a public Netvibes page as a central portal for our information. Blog feeds are the most common items here. I'll create tabs for each unit we study, and add blogs that are relevant. I will also set up an RSS feed for the lesson materials.
A more personal blog, with thoughts of teaching this class in particular, will be accessed on the front page of the public netvibes. This is a chance for me to discuss with them my plans and reflections without taking up valuable learning time. They can read and respond to this as they wish. Their comments are not able to be viewed by the public for safety reasons.
Finally, I'm going to use dabbleboard as a psuedo-back channel. This will be a space for them to post questions and comments, and at the same time allow all of them to respond to the questions or comments. Any unanswered questions will be answered by me after the lesson, and the board saved.
My ultimate plan is to have us as a group learning regardless of time or space, and independent of me identifying next actions. Only time will tell if this is successful or not, however in my early discussions with the students they seem excited by the developments.
I'm currently building a slideshow and concept map to represent these ideas, and will post them as they are finalised. For interest, the map at this stage is below;