Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wikis and Podcasts

Since my last post, I've been working on wikis and podcasts.

Wikis: I used Writeboard to create outlines of essays for students to collaborate on in order to help them compose their rough drafts. Also, on Writeboard, I created several brainstorm sessions to help students collaborate possible essay topics. I created a link to each Writeboard within the weekly schedule, which I thought would be the easiest way to to have students link to the wiki. Recently, though, Terence and I found a better wiki--PBWiki. This one allows all of the wikis created for the same class to be available on one page/one location. In other words, PBWiki has a front page that lets a teacher explain the class and the use of wikis and lets the instructor link the wikis being used to that front page. So I could have a page devoted to brainstorms and another one for outlines. How cool, right?! So I'll copy and paste the Writeboard wikis into the PBwiki and call it a day. The problem is finding the time to create pages and copy and paste text into the new wiki while I'm working on the podcasts. I have wikis in place in the schedule, so I think I might leave them in place and use Writeboard this first time of teaching online. And then for future classes I will revise and use the PBWiki. I would just rather focus my attention on the podcast lectures and class blog for now.

The podcast lectures are really coming along. At first I was going to wing the lectures with my unscripted notes and just talk freely like I do when I lecture f2f. But then I realized, I rely on student's immediate questions to guide my lectures as well as our conversation about the topic, but that spontaneous, live action couldn't really happen online unless we are all on a live chat together. (I really want my class to be asynchronous, so students can be at class when it's best for their schedules.) So I've spent today writing the script to a third of my lectures--I have 30 total.

Script writing is exhausting. And it takes so much more time than recording the script. I might spend 40 minutes on script that lasts about 2 minutes. This process is really time consuming. In fact, I don't have to work an 8-5 day, but I did. I took a half hour lunch break. Please know that I am not complaining, but the lecture podcast script writing and then recording has made me see how much more work is entailed in the creation of an online class. Lectures for f2f classes take me about 20 minutes tops. I jot down a list of things I want to mention, probing questions so that the lecture is more of a collaborative conversation, and then maybe some pages from our texts that relate to what we're talking about. Having to write out everything I want to say and figure out how to say as briefly as possible so the MP3 file isn't too big for the blog is very time consuming. Also, I've been linking every lecture to our MLA Handbook b/c I didn't use it in the online class readings, and that has taken me quite awhile to find the pages, summary boxes, and exercises I think would benefit the students the most.

Tomorrow I will record the lectures for the second essay cycle. This one has to do with evaluating sources, MLA citations and the works cited page. I think, perhaps, that is why script writing today was so slow. It's much easier to explain MLA in person! As I was writing my scripts I would come to a new lecture and realize I needed to add something to the lecture I just wrote, so the students see the interconnectedness of MLA and how lessons build from one another. Also, the first two essays had more lectures because these are the essays that I'm using to teach them the basics of argumentation and MLA. The last three essays have a significantly less amount of lectures because by then the students know the basics and just need pointers on dealing with the specific essay at hand.

Once I get my podcasts recorded, create the Library Assignment, and flesh out peer review, maybe then I'll consider setting up a PBWiki.

Thank goodness, I started this project early and still have plenty of time. I think IDEAL is right when they say it takes about 15 weeks to create an online class that is as engaging (if not more so) than a f2f class.

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