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30 January 2006


School is going really well so far. I have some terrific students, and my online classes are not filled to the brim, which means I'll have more time to spend on each student.

I'm trying out some new technologies this semester. For the Maine classes, I'm incorporating WebCT, which is a platform similar to Blackboard but not as nice. On there, I can keep all the course materials, such as handouts and quizzes. I'm using it as an accessible storage box for students and nothing else. Usually when the typical student misses a class, he or she returns the following week completely unprepared because he or she didn't know what to do. Even though I give them a syllabus at the beginning of the semester with a schedule of the readings and assignments, and even though I give all writing assignments out weeks in advance to avoid this problem, it still happens. With WebCT, the excuse "I didn't know what was due" is effectively taken away. Students who miss a class can log in, check the syllabus and find any missed assignments, quizzes or handouts.

Of course I am not naive enough to think I'll really be eliminating all the excuses. This semester, it will be "I couldn't log into the site because my computer crashed."

When students don't want to do something, they aren't going to do it, no matter how easy I try and make it for them.

For my online classes, I'm introducing podcast lectures. This way, the students will be able to hear my voice, and maybe the natural benevolence of my dulcet tones will calm their fears of writing. Yeah, right. Hopefully, though it will better personalize the student-teacher connection. Also, I'm going to try out podcast grading, giving students an mp3 file of oral feedback. I'll be able to explain comments better in less time, so it should be a beneficial change for both students and me.


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