Blog for the course offered at Teachers College, Columbia University during Fall 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

Course Participation

Based on your feedback about the course, I've put together the following FAQs addressing some of your concerns about participation.

How often should I participate in the course (read bookmarks, post to my blog, etc.)?
As Nabeel suggests, different people have different requirements and schedules. One of the benefits of online learning is that it allows each learner to set their own pace (within certain parameters, of course). If you want to check your RSS feeds daily, you can do that. If you want to do it a couple of times a week, that's fine too. There is no single model of participation. The only thing that is really disruptive to the class (and detrimental to you) is non-participation!

Should I be reading every bookmark submitted to the ccte feed?
Not only do I not read every bookmark, but sometimes I do not read the whole article before bookmarking it! The point is to make the information available and let users decide what to read and when.

This class is generating a lot of links (as it should), and reading every one one of them would consume most of your time. But what you are doing is also contributing to a database that will be available after you complete this course! Tags in are important because they will allow you to retrieve all this information later: Even if you are not reading every article tagged with the word 'identity' right now, you know you will be able to find those articles later by looking up that tag.

Should I think carefully before bookmarking an item?
Not really. Reviewing an item in the feed and deciding whether to ignore it or access it can literally take only seconds (specially if the summary or extended description is helpful--hint hint). Therefore, you are not wasting a lot of people's time by submitting something you are not sure any of your classmates might find useful (as long as the item has something to do with computers, communication, technology and/or education).

Should I be reading every blog post contributed by my classmates?
Yes. Blog posts are not bookmarks, and I expect you to read those carefully. We function as a research community, and your peers depend on you to evaluate their research, just as you depend on them.

Should I spend a lot of time carefully crafting my blog posts?
That's kind of tricky to answer. Some people are better writers than others. Blogging is supposed to be informal, but because we are a research community, your posts should still be well written and organized. Hence all the advice I've given you before about writing 'the perfect blog post.'

Whereas the mainstream opinion is that bloggers are self-centered, good bloggers actually write for their audience, not just for themselves. One thing is for sure: blogging will make you a better (and faster) writer.

How much feedback should I provide to blog posts?
In commenting, strive for quality, not quantity. Part of this means being selective about which posts you feel you have something meaningful to say.

Blogs are not discussion boards, where each post should generate a lengthy threaded exchange. It's OK to leave a comment after a post to provide some focused feedback. But a more appropriate strategy is to reply using your own blog! You can compose a post by 're-mixing' (to use a buzz word) what some of your classmates have said and then making your own point. Blogs are more monological than discussion boards (c.f. this), but they can still facilitate dialogue!

I posted something yesterday and no one has commented on it. Is there something wrong?
This class is comprised of multiple asynchronous conversations. Most online classes propose a topic for the week, everyone discusses that topic, and then the class moves on to the next topic. This class is different in that there are various conversations happening simultaneously. What does that do to our concept of a conversation? The asynchronous nature of online collaboration is another aspect of social software that needs to be researched...


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