I’m helping organize a panel of faculty at my school who have been using a range of different technologies to support student interaction in and out of class. With so many options out there, we want to focus on what has worked for us, what hasn’t worked, and start some conversations around how to make the jump from looking at your course, with its content, outcomes, and pedagogy, and draw on others experience with these tools on the ground with our systems and our students to have some idea what options might be appropriate. Independently of this, I’ve got a group of students in a capstone using Basecamp to organize their project, and it’s got me thinking about (not a very new thought, I’ll admit), whether I like the idea of using this type of professionally-oriented project site in other courses to have students manage their groups. I get a lot less control than in a CMS, but the flip side is I’m running into fewer places where students are trying to make the site work for them and they don’t have enough power. SIGCSE just had a discussion in its mailing list about what repository systems people are using, and in all levels of courses. And when I see articles about new tools for collaboration and discussion like the new Discourse discussion platform, I’m immediately thinking about whether the improvements they talk about (less pagination, more dynamic processes for replying, flexible content embedding, and moderation/ranking tools) would work well for class discussion also. It reminds me of the window of time when I was in school and it was normal, if not expected, for a department to have a set of forums/groups associated with, and not just on a course by course basis. Is that still out there and I’m simply at an outlier school without them, or has that type of conversation been killed off? Is it (*shudder*) on Facebook?

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