This course is the first time I have really used a blog before. I did set one up years ago but it didn’t really go anywhere because I didn’t know why I had one – I just did as others seemed to be setting them up! I think that is why I haven’t introduced blogs as part of my courses – without a purpose, they have no purpose. I did get comments from some of my students this semester that they didn’t want to use a blog again but I think that is more to do with getting to grips with what they can achieve. Another student I was talking to was using his blog for everything now as he found it a great way to document what he was doing for his different courses regardless of whether it was a requirement to keep a blog or not.
I have enjoyed adding new posts to my blog for this course and I love to see how many people have visited my blog and added comments. Bearing this in mind I do try to read others blogs and add comments but I often don’t know what to say! It has been frustrating at times getting things to work right (think embedding Jing into WordPress!!) but it has allowed me to reflect on what I do, what problems I have and how else I could use it. For me, this is probably one of the best, unintentional things I am getting out of this course – here I go with my whole play thing. But seriously, I think that the more I use it the easier it will be to get students to start using it; the more issues I have, the more learning I do and the more understanding I will have of possible student issues when they do start using it (and lets face it, there will always be issues, and as I say to each of my classes, the process of getting their IT degree will provide much more learning than the actual courses they complete as there will always be computer, software and networking issues!).
One blogger I have started to follow is Clare Atkins. She has a number of different blogs but I know that I can get to all of her class blogs and her student blogs from her central blog. This knowledge has been useful as it gives me easy access to her courses and other interesting things her students have done (like the link to tutorial on how to move in second life which I posted in my last post).
I have been playing around with Google Sites this year. I started with a course in the first semester but it didn’t really go anywhere because it didn’t really have a purpose. In the second semester, I encourage my students to use one as part of their group work assignment to manage the project management side – in particular sharing documents and providing back ups. It is also useful if they want me to check something they have done as we don’t have to rely on emails (which need to be unblocked because of the attachments – more of a hassle than a serious problem but it does slow the turn around). The groups also need to do progress reports so we can all keep track of what is happening. These get uploaded to their website and I can comment on the document (if they use a google doc) or in the comments section of the website. This way everyone knows where they are at and I have a record of some of my communications with them. One problem I did have with their websites was getting access to them – as I was keeping the progress report marks in a spreadsheet I copied their website link in and just click on that to find the correct website.
I have also created a website for myself as a place to put the different tutorials I have put together over the last few years. These tutorials are mainly for Access but there are some for Visio, Word and Excel. I wrote most of the tutorials because I couldn’t find what I wanted online. Some of the other tutorials were to supplement textbook activities. Why put them online? First because I had written them and I thought others might like them, but more importantly, so I don’t have to upload them to my different Moodle courses each year. Now all I will have to do is place a link to my website on each Moodle course. And of course, students can then access the tutorials in the future if they want too. My website is in very early stages. I am trying 2 different layouts for the tutorials – one using the filing cabinet and the other using downloadable files. I haven’t decided which way to go yet so any comments would be appreciated. My site can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/sandrascourses/. There is also a link on my sidebar of this blog under interesting websites.