Over the past six months I’ve been gaining familiarity with blogs, email groups, wikis, elluminate, discussion boards, Blackboard, Google talk, del.icio.us, bloglines, rss feeds, and other web-services.  All very interesting, but how do they relate to this project of blended delivery of course content.

I sat down last night & started getting my head around this issue, then this morning had a meeting with Leigh Blackall to get some more clarity around what options are actually possible & workable.

The model that came out of this process follows….
(Please note that this is a draft, and has not progressed through consultation with staff at this stage)

The long-term intention is to create open-source content and activities.  These will most likely be stored on Wikieducator.org.   The main barrier is that we use copyrighted images in our teaching.  We will undergo a process of sourcing open images, but in the meantime we need a means of locking down the content to prevent unauthorised access.  Blackboard will be the medium that is used in the short-term with this end.

Each course will have it’s own blog.   Lecturers will post weekly/daily updates/guidance/activities to their course blog, and these postings will feed into a meta-blog (supaglue (spelling?) or some similar engine).

Each programme will have an email group set up & this will be the primary communication medium.  I have some issues with email groups.  I find that when a photo is placed next a text message I feel more of a sense of connection with the writer of the message, and feel that this is important for community building.  Google groups do not have this functionality.  Also the informal structure of email groups (relative to discussion groups) means that threads of conversation are not so clear, and discussion topics quickly fall out of the discussion space if they occurred say a week ago or more.  However given these issues, email groups still remain the best medium for communication within an online group that I have seen.  Leigh suggested that one way to ensure that students did not miss important threads of conversation was to regularly summarise important threads & post them on the course blog.  Hopefully Google moves to add in the functionality that I would like at some point in the near future.

The purpose of Blackboard will be as a storage place for copyrighted course material in the near future.  To improve the student’s ease of experience, postings made to course blogs should be mirrored in the announcements tab with links made to relevant activities/materials.

I also see us using elluminate for regular web conferences, and social software such as del-icio.us.

As the content is moved to an open format it can be converted to wiki-format.  I mentioned that I was not very enthusiastic about the prospect of typing all of my word documents into the wiki format (complete with esoteric indicators of formating, etc.), and Leigh suggested that I consider eXe.  I’ll look into it.

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