Five-ring binders

Jim Groom at bavatuesdays talks about multi-user blogs for students in this post.

He used WordPress Multi-User to collect comments that students in a Film/Text/Culture course posted on their own blogs. If I follow, the WPMU blog acted as a kind of feed reader, integrating the individual posts and making it easier for participants to share and comment on ideas.

With his collaborator Gardner Campbell, Groom’s now looking at a kind of digital five-ring binder.

Some of the discussion gets into the machinery of WordPress, but you can skim for the highlights —

  • A student maintains her own blog, using agreed-on category tags for posts relating to different courses.
  • A course portal scoops up appropriate posts based on those tags.
  • Students in a course can read and comment on each other’s posts at the course portal.

So the portal serves as a focal point for discussion among students, while the individual blogs provide a kind of digital notebook (with content management features like search and archive) for the individual student.

I’m always interested in ongoing experiments like this. For one thing, there’s no better way to uncover both good successful ideas and bad ones that need work. What happens when a student miscategorizes a film post and it ends up in the history portal? Or when a student writes a personal comment to a friend but leaves it on someone else’s blog?

Neither of those will cause the stars to fall (not the majority of stars, anyhow). For topics that lend themselves to discussion and interpretation, the class portal seems to offer great promise. What about a “harder” area like organic chemistry? I’m not sure. But something like marketing or even business law? When you’ve moved away from the obvious (“don’t lie; don’t accept kickbacks from vendors”), this idea of Groom’s and Campbell’s looks to have potential.

One thought on “Five-ring binders

  1. Thanks for the link, Dave. I am certianly happy to thik some of this may have legs, we just got to fine tune the aggregation, and I think Brian Lamb has already begun working on this one.

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