Saturday, November 19, 2011

Learning Objectives:
comprehension, analysis

My 101 students connected to one another online as part of larger assignment. They were divided into small groups and each group was assigned an article that relates to our discussions of Fast Food Nation. Four specific tasks were defined: 1) summarize the article, 2) note who was interviewed for the article and decide whether or not they are "reliable" sources, 3) choose two important quotations and explain their relevance, and 4) prepare two discussion questions for the class. Group members chose their tasks and posted their work on Facebook. Once the initial assignments were posted, they were assigned "partners" and asked to read and respond to their partner's post. They were also told to prepare class presentations.

How it went:
Most of this went really well. Students did a great job with their assigned tasks and the presentations were terrific. They succeeded in dissecting and analyzing a possible research source and practiced their public speaking skills. The class got an overview of 6 resources and many have chosen to use some of the articles in their upcoming research essays. The part that didn't go so well was the online connection, mostly because the instructions I provided were confusing to them. A few did a wonderful job but most did not, which tells me that the fault lay with the prompt, not with them. Their comments were short and vague and not particularly useful. I would certainly do the larger assignment again but need to rethink the online connection. I may have been trying to force something for the sake of experimentation when it really doesn't belong and may end up cutting that part entirely.

On an unrelated note, I'm having technical issues with Blackboard SafeAssign and could use some advice. Many students trying to post are getting error messages saying that the system is overloaded. I planned to return comments on Monday so wanted to grade this morning and afternoon. Since most essay aren't up yet, I'm already several hours behind schedule and am afraid I won't have time for all of them tomorrow. So, what do I do? Give them an extension? Accept essays via e-mail (which will be very confusing for me)? Make them keep trying and hope they upload in time for me to read them?


  1. Ah, Blackboard.

    Let's see. Can they upload their essays on FB or only you can do that? If yes, do that and ask them to try to upload to SafeAssign later (Sunday), just so that you can check the plagiarism part.

    Another simple option is to create a page on our C 2.0 wiki,and ask the students to submit their papers as attachments under "Comments." Just give them the link to the page you created. The creation will take 5 min., the message a couple more.

  2. The wiki is under Links on this blog.

    Otherwise, just cut and paste:

  3. Delete the wiki page later if you are worried about privacy.

  4. Thanks for the advice, X. Many students e-mailed their essays to me when they couldn't post them but a handful have neither posted nor contacted me. I can't tell if they're having trouble with the system or just haven't done the assignment. I posted a message on FB asking them to let me know if they're still struggling with BB but there have been no responses so far. For now, I'm reading the essays that have been submitted and will see what the others say in class tomorrow.

  5. Hopefully, X's suggestions will help the glitches get worked out soon. I like the oral component you're including. When you have a chance I'd like to know more about the online piece, too.