I'd say that the web (as opposed to a MOO, a conferencing system, or even
e-mail) is not much good as a "virtual classroom", as Marcie says. But
it's an ideal place for publication of finished products. It allows
students to engage in something that is more like "real" publication than
anything else, because once there material is up there, anyone in the
world can see it, and it gets vetted like anything else on the net--if
people find it interestig, they read it and tell their friends, and if
they don't, they don't.
I'm experimenting with this right now in an Information Technology and
Society course.. I'm doing it in a rather chicken way, in the smallest
possible format, becaue it's the first time I've done it and I'm keeping
one step ahead of the class. The idea is that each student does some
independent research on a topic. Then groups link their pieces of
related research together into a brief collaborative document with html
links out to the individual documents. When this is done I will link the
whole thing into my own home page (rather than have the students all
build their little home pages). If I get braver in future I'll get a
team of students to create a class home page that has its own existence
rather than being a piece of mine.
There is only a little writing involved because it's a big class taught
in under six weeks, and it's not specifically a "writing" course except
in the sense that all courses are writing courses (mr WAC talking here).
In fact, the whole project is a way to get writing back into a course
that's gotten too large for traditional essay assignments and is mostly
evaluated by exam.
Actually, I'm finding that I may have been over-cautious. I think that
the students could do more with this assignment, and I think I will try a
more heavy-duty version in future.
BTW, I use my home page as a bibliography repository--still shamefully
Visiit http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dabrent to see the story so far. But
there won't be much student work to see until a few weeks further into
Why not make a bid for a pedagogical design that incorporates e-mail,
MOOspace, and just old-fashioned groups huddled around a word processor
as a way of facilitating the process of drafting etc, and WWW as a way of
displaying the product? The more different aspects of the net--sorry,
the Information Highway--get integrated into their more useful spots in
the course, the more pedagogically useful they are--and the more likely
the duck is to come down.
I'll post my assignment page in the next message. I could send it
privately but I'm assuming immodestly that others may be interested in
what I'm doing as well.
Good luck with the duck.