There’s been a big push on to get faculty thinking about possible distance learning tools in the light of the H1N1 virus. We’ve all been asked to think about how we’d deal with either faculty or students being isolated for a period of time.
Our school website incorporates most of the things they would need to communicate class requirements like assignments, schedule. They can post links, upload documents and so forth, even embed audio and video. It does lack interactivity for the students – it’s all one way.
My colleague Steve and I have been doing workshops all the last week and a half and that’s been a LOT of fun. He’s done the ones on WordPress and I’ve been doing wikis and Moodle. We have a Moodle install on campus – we were actually planning on retiring it. It is enjoying a brief rennaissance. Why wikis, WordPress and Moodle? We have local installs of Moodle and WordPress and we were asked to do something on wikis. More to come if I have anything to say about it.
I think I learn more at these things than the teachers do sometimes.
I had a really interesting project this morning – A teaching intern in the science department set up a wiki and then wanted to embed a spreadsheet of environmental data that students could update.
They are studying Blow Me Down Brook, a local stream, and its corresponding watershed. The obvious to me answer was to keep the spreadsheet in Google Docs, I could get that far.
That meant a quick tutorial on Google Docs (which I have used sometimes but really am not that familiar with). Then he had to set up an account at Google, and upload a spreadsheet (he could have created a new one there of course) into his brand new Google Docs account.
Then we shared the document. We ran into a snag here because as test students we were getting prompted to log in to Google to edit the embedded sheet. We didn’t want them to have to log in of course.
With a little tinkering with permissions, now all his students can edit the spreadsheet and have the embedded sheet update dynamically. Very cool! I started telling the teaching intern how his students could work with google maps to add markers to the Google map of the watershed area they are studying, with photographs, overlays and all the rest.. He said I was making his brain explode and we would have to talk about it later.
Oh, I love this stuff!