I've been thinking a lot about 're-use' in my course materials. Just spent some time migrating wiki content between different domains. Also cutting and pasting between old and new courses in Blackboard. (Deleting old items in BB seems like it is one at time--tedious and a complete waste of my time.... Why can't I select more than one item at a time? Why isn't this better--and simpler?)
What are the best practices for re-use and continuity in Web 2.0 tools for education? The web today is endlessly in the present--who reads a tweet from last week? It's old news.
In contrast, if we are going to be moving content, er, our courses to the web, we'll want to think about how to keep it alive (and make it easy to re-use and re-purpose) for entire semesters, even across courses and academic years. Blogs and wikis are going to make it difficult to do this. For all its many limitations, Blackboard does at least let you archive and move course content around.
It's clear that we're going to be spending more and more of our teaching lives online--whether in traditional courses that get blogs, wikis, etc.; hybrid courses or even pure web courses (though this seems unlikely in my department). The tools need to be better, and we need to think about Web 2.0 in a different way than most users. While these tools celebrate that they are of the moment, I want to think about about building engaging content that lasts at least a semester or two....
Should we do it ourselves (as in this Web 2.0 seminar), or should we aspire to a standard 'platform'--ugh, an ugly and even sinister word? The same issues crop up with courseware in general for online or distance learning, too. Is it DIY or an institution's standard, usually monolithic, platform? And Web 2.0 tools may be so long-lived after all. The history of the Internet is littered with the countless lost web domains and ventures that ran out of venture capital. I'm already seeing, however, that it's a lot of work to keep track of accounts and doing administration (and even passwords) in these separate tools. A platform appeals to me. I just can't imagine what it would be like to be a student with three different courses that use entirely different web tools. Imagine this across a typical career of a student at LaGuardia, passwords and accounts and identities multiplied by how many classes over several years. So I can see the benefit of ePortfolio or Blackboard here.... Any thoughts?
As a point of contrast, I was browsing through a course on Quantum Physics on MIT's OpenCourseWare. (No, I can't understand the math, but I love this stuff in a kind of Michael Frayn Copenhagen way). I just presented a conference paper on some related math and physics in Pynchon's 2006 novel Against the Day. (I'm planning to revise the essay and submit it somewhere this summer. We are covering some Einstein--via a wonderful book Einstein's Dreams for my LIB 200 course. There is an excellent PBS website on one of the Nova documentaries there....)
For MIT's courses like this one, there is such an elegant approach--videotaped lectures of and these beautiful, austere lecture notes in PDFs, in black and white only, no less.... This all gives the illusion this is a body of understanding that will last. In my endlessly transformative pedagogy, I'm so swamped lately re-adjusting and simplifying and making things better--choosing the right YouTube clips and excerpts of graphic novels and enticing web links, etc., all designed to get my students to read and think critically, just a little, at a little greater length than their next tweet or text. I crave simplicity--and solidity--that Web 2.0 seems to have taken away.... Any thoughts?