Learning Activity 3-B-2 Andre

Post a blog entry about how you hope to use RSS to either enhance your own learning or with your students. Comment on at least one other student’s blog.

I hope to be able to be able to have my class signup for the oldreader and then ask student to subscribe to a few economic related pages. I am thinking I will have them subscribe to Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). These government agencies periodically release macro data and I would like to have my students get this information as soon as possible. I would then have class related activities where they would have to know this information that was being shared by RSS feeders. I think this is going to be a great way to get students involved and interested in economics related topics.

Managing Large Groups in Online Discussion Boards

One of the issues I struggle with in online courses is how not to overwhelm (and be overwhelmed) with online discussion boards.  Sometimes, they will get too long and it is hard to follow and read all the postings.  A student may not logon for one or two days and when he/she comes back there are dozens, if not hundreds of new postings.

There are a few reasons for this.  One is that faculty will usually provide a minimum number of required postings.  Some students think that the more they post, the better their grade will be.  Therefore, there will be a number of postings that are not as relevant.  While some of this can be reduced through monitoring, some cannot.  A second reason is that classes may have a large number of students.  When this happens, discussions that involve the whole class may not be feasible.

In my online world, most of the classes I teach have 35 students.   My experience shows that this is too large for a setup where all students participate in the same discussions.  These discussions tend to get too large.  I also observe that many students will be focused solely on the question they answered or replied (I usually have a maximum of 3 students answer each question).  My plan is to break these discussions in smaller groups for future courses.

In your experience as a faculty member, student, or observer, what type of questions and number of students work best?  Please elaborate on your answer so we can get the discussion going.

Writing in the Curriculum

Sometimes, it’s not easy to add enough writing in the curriculum.  My discipline is economics and developing writing is not one of the goals of the course.  However, students may not be able to develop economic ideas if they are not writing about them.  I don’t think my students write enough.  Most of the problems and questions I give don’t require much writing.  I think the Blog by Michelle Lampinen gives some great ideas that can be used for all levels.   The assignment is described here.  She teaches younger kids but the principles that she uses and the ideas in her blog are great examples that can be used for all grade levels.  I like the fact that she spent one period with them creating profiles and letting them experimenting.  This would be key for the success.  Secondly, I think that I can ask students to ask about any topic, including what we are covering in class.  This would force them to be somewhat proficient in the material to write about it.  The required comments on other students would make sure that progress is spread throughout the course.  Thank you Michelle for sharing your project.


Reflections on Read/Write Web

I think blogs and other online resources can definitely be included in my courses.  I foresee that I may ask my students to host their own blogs in topics related to economics.  I think something that allows them to explore economic topic while having to write about it may increase interest in the course.  It’s challenging sometimes to make online courses interesting for students.  Many times, students do not feel directly connected to the class and are at a greater risk of dropping out of courses.  Direct communication for student/student and student/faculty may be effective in dealing with this issue.  I believe that blogs can be used with this in mind.  Thanks for reading, Andre