Russell Hunt wrote:
> It may be worth explaining here what those of us working on this
> here at St. Thomas would want such a program to do (and why we
> finally decided we didn't want to be a beta test site for CONNECT).
He went on to provide a very helpful list (thanks, Russ) of ways that
he uses various communications tools in his classes--tools he fondly
referred to as "our kludge."
Both First Class and Textra Connect attempt to replace kludge with
an integrated system. I haven't seen First Class (I'd love to try it,
though, Marcie; I'll talk to you privately), but I thought I should
correct the record about Connect (which I admittedly haven't
used except in demo form; corrections to my corrections are welcome).
Connect provides one-to-one e-mail like Pegasus Mail, one-to-many
e-mail like a listserv, discussion groups organized around assignments
(each assignment can have a different discussion group, and the
"assignment" can as loosely interpreted as you choose), and a limited
form of group editing (no master document collates all the changes).
Students can post drafts to the group and annotate each others' work.
Instructors can attach "forms", directly editable writing fragments, to
assignments. Instructors can collect essays on-line, grade them using
annotations, and return graded papers on-line. Connect is umbilically
attached to a word-processing environment, either Word for Windows
6.0 or Textra (DOS), which is, I think, a strength.
Even though I am describing a later version of Connect than the one
Russ Hunt saw, a couple of his comments about the earlier version still
apply. It does tend to put the instructor in the middle of things (only
the instructor can initiate an assignment/discussion thread), and it also
lacks the kind of multilateral editing available in other systems, if by
"multilateral" we mean a group-edited project in which the master
document reflects all editing changes. It also, I think, falls short of the
threaded discussions that a BBS or a conferencing package provides,
unless one thinks of Connect's assignment-oriented discussion groups
as equivalent to discussion threads.
Thanks to all for your feedback about conferencing software. Your
help is timely and MUCH appreciated.
East Kootenay Community College
[log in to unmask]