Monday, March 14, 2011

A warily woeless beginning

No serious worries or concerns regarding the techno usage managed to rear proverbially ugly heads in the first week. I have one class (eng 102) that is running on both wetpaint and blackboard, though bb is really only for turning in essays and tracking grades. The 101 class is far more BB intensive, and the students far more easily confused (two websites are the internet equivalent of a disco-ball warehouse to a raccoon it seems) to the point where I have pretty much abandoned wetpaint in that class for all but the wiki project. It seems if I can't put all content in one place they get thrown off, but it sure does help me to use BB to keep grade records and the cache of previous documents / drafts. But may be more trouble than it is worth.

Things seem to be going smoothly in 102, discussion forum entries are showing up in the right place, and 27 students have created accounts, so it looks like everything is going fine. We'll see. But 101, however smooth it seemed to be last week, somewhere around noon today apparently got way more confusing, like Aranofsky / Lynch confusing. Their assignment was this: Complete WLE #1 (Writing Log Entry #1 -- this is, as is explained verbally and in the assignment online, a prewriting / brainstorming step to help them decide what to write their first paper on. I figure they can do a bang up job in 30 minutes of reflection and 15 of writing.) WLEs have a separate folder in Assignments (as do postwrites, peer reviews, and take home essays -- and that's all there is, four folders, four types of assignments). I think, no problem, I've done this all before. Until I see that 6 students have submitted as postwrite #1, 4 as Peer review #1, three as Essay #1, and one as WLE #10. Essentially, they have submitted WLE #1 as anything with a 1 in it!

"What the F happened?" I ask them in class today.
"We were confused."
"What is the name of the assignment?" I ask.
"WLE #1," they respond, as if coached.
"What assignment folder would you expect to find it in then?"
"So why are you submitting as Essay #1, postwrite #1, Peer review #1, etc?"
"iuuuuuooow" (which is en-mass--confused freshman for "I don't know.")

So, iuuuuuuuooow either. The class is young, but something about blackboard (or reading instructions) has got them confused, I suppose. It may be time to give up the behemoth of all course management systems and turn it back over to wetpaint or start something new altogether. I've noticed a trend wherein sites that appear commercial seem to also be more intuitive to our students. Am getting a bit exhausted myself though experimenting with new platforms and tools. I may just be too old to start using Facebook and all that google mumbo-jumbo now in the mid-summer of my life (that's a thing, right?) Blah.

1 comment:

  1. I can't blame my group of students. I tired of Wiki, was confused by Spruz (rhymes), Ning was not free, Wordpress trial downloaded virus, Tumblr seems weak. Again, it seems that the more we want to do, the more inspired we get, the more we (or the students get lost). What does that say? I"m with you on this, Corbett.