Have you considered using WordPress as a course website, but aren’t sure how it might look? Are you using it already, but curious about new ideas? Here’s a sneak peek at how other Middlebury faculty have been doing it.
We are pleased to announce the addition of a much-awaited feature to our WordPress site network. As of today groups added to sites can automatically maintain their membership over time. Site administrators will no longer have to go back into WordPress and regularly bulk-add groups to grant access to new group members.
In the WordPress Dashboard
When you add users to a WordPress site by group the new default option is to keep the group in sync:
All users currently in the group will be added to the site with the role you specified. Members of the group who already have a role with greater abilities will not have their permissions reduced. Members of the group who already have a role with less abilities will be raised to the role specified for the group.
Over time, as people are added to the group, their roles in the site will be updated whenever they log into WordPress. If a person is removed from a group they will have their role in the site removed when they log into WordPress if their role hasn’t been manually changed to a different level.
More details about group-synchronization are available in the LIS Wiki.
In the Course Hub
In tandem with this new feature in the WordPress dashboard, the Course Hub now automatically adds class-groups to WordPress sites when adding WordPress Resources. When you add a WordPress Resource to the Course Hub the screen now includes an option that lets you specify what role to give students in the WordPress site. (Instructors will always be administrators of the site.)
When you save the WordPress Resource in the Course Hub three class-groups (instructors, students, and audits) are added to WordPress site and kept in sync. Instructors no longer need to do the extra step of going to WordPress and adding the class-groups to the site. As well, new students enrolled during the “Add/Drop Period” will automatically have access to the WordPress site when they log in after their enrollment has processed.
If you delete the WordPress Resource from the Course Hub the users and class-groups it added will be removed from the WordPress site, however the site itself will not be deleted automatically.
Got MOOCs? Here are two recent pieces I found interesting:
The first is from Wired: Beyond the Buzz, Where Are MOOCs Really Going? by Michael Horn and Clayton Christensen. “We believe they are likely to evolve into a scale business, one that relies on the technology and data backbone of the medium to optimize and individualize learning opportunities for millions of students. This is very different than simply putting a video of a professor lecturing online.”
The second is The Trouble With Online College from the New York Times and takes perhaps a less optimistic view. “Courses delivered solely online may be fine for highly skilled, highly motivated people, but they are inappropriate for struggling students who make up a significant portion of college enrollment and who need close contact with instructors to succeed.”
By default, when you create a Moodle site it is set to be “not available to students” to give you time to add site content before students can access the site.
Unfortunately, the “availability” setting can be a bit hard to find in Moodle settings. To make this important setting easier to change and its current state more visible, you can now set its value from right in the Course Hub when creating or editing the Moodle Resource:
When you put files in the
SHARE/ folders of your class folder, a “Middfiles Class Folder” resource will automatically be added to your Course Hub site. This resource provides a link that allows students to easily browse the files without having to mount a network drive. There is nothing extra you need to do. Read on for more details.
I attended the 2012 New Media Consortium’s summer conference located in Boston at the MIT campus for the first time, accompanied by Joe Antonioli. It was an invigorating several days of talks around new technology and education. I want to introduce you to some of the great speakers and ideas that I encountered. The embedded videos are short but get to the core of many of these ideas. Please take at least a few minutes to scan them and watch further if you find them interesting.
I began the conference with an entire morning session with Dr. Jeff Borden of Pearson called “Personalization : How Far Can (Should) We Go?” He advocates encouraging creativity, giving students safe places to fail but holding them to mastery. He cautions that too much personalization can be a bad thing, when “filter bubbles” over-personalize our experience, but data can provide invaluable feedback to both educators and students. He covers a lot of the same material in the following short video from a different conference. It’s worth watching.
This video, clips of which were shown during Kaltura’s presentation “Enhance Your Online Learning Environment with Video”, highlights the profoundly transformative effect that technologies as simple as YouTube can have. Just the first 7.5 minutes of this video will get this point across:
Several of the talks I attended were about game based learning and gamification as powerful tools for engagement and active learning.
In “Just Press Play: A Unified Game Layer for Education” Andrew Phelps (Rochester Institute of Technology) introduces “Just Press Play” an achievement/badge based system which provides a scale of accomplishment for students to engage in a range of activities and track what they have experienced.
Brett Bixler’s 20+ ways to Add Game-like Elements to Your Learning Designs
During “Which? The Academic Technology Card Game” David Thomas put forth the simple idea “Time is valuable. Entertainment values your time.” We played a card game that “inadvertently” got us talking about academic technology. It sparked inquisition and discussion and it really was fun. The following video is his short TEDx talk “What Makes a Place Fun?”
Helen Keegan urges us to take risks to get people curious. She used a “pedagogy of deception” when creating a fictional person whom the class followed via social networks.
My takeaway was that there really are opportunities to do things in new ways now, genuinely new ways that don’t simply transplant old practices into new technology, that are worth exploring. The message seems to be, take risks, encourage creativity, and get students engaged in learning by leveraging the new social, mobile, visual, storytelling, and gaming technologies.
More to engage with:
New Media Consortium Summer Conference presentations playlist Includes Joichi Ito’s opening keynote.
Tweets (Some top tweets from our own Joe Antonioli!) (click the all link for the full list)
As of today, instructors can create Course Hub sites for lab, discussion, independent study, and other section-types that do not have Course Hub sites automatically created.
Lab/discussion Course Hub sites are not needed for the majority of courses as the lecture/seminar sites usually suffice. However, they may be useful in the following cases:
- The lab is taught by a separate instructor with its own resources and syllabus.
- You wish to create separate resources (e.g. Moodle sites) for each discussion section.
Segue’s decommissioning will culminate on Friday August 31st, 2012 when Segue is taken offline. In preparation for this deadline, as of January 1st, 2012, faculty will no longer be able to create Segue websites. We recommend that all new sites be created in either Moodle or WordPress. Segue migration workshops will begin in Winter Term and continue into the Spring and Summer 2012 semesters. Continue reading