This year I will be assisting Ryan Bolger (his new website) in his classes again, for the fall quarter we’re doing Church in Mission. Over the last three years I’ve TA’d a number of different classes with him and he’s always doing some really great things with technology and the classroom. Our typical approach has been to utilize blogs for class discussions, reading reviews and student comments, but in years past we’ve also used delicious.com for web research, and wiki’s for group projects. This year we’re returning to the wiki idea and I’m pretty excited about how it’s turning out (we borrowed lots of great ideas from Michael Wesch). We set up a Church in Mission wiki, using the free service from Wetpaint.com (for educational wiki’s they’ll even turn off the ads), and are structuring the whole course around the website. The class of 70+ students are separated into various groups around various ethnic traditions, each group then spends the whole quarter working on a group wiki around post-colonial issues and their particular traditions.
Why a wiki? The wiki makes it easy not only to have a class homepage for disseminating information, but what is great about it is that the site becomes fully editable by the class. Once the each student signs up with an account and joins our page, they can edit different parts of the site. There is a section for class notes, so people can collaborate during, and after class, on the notes in a way that would be impossible otherwise. We’ve also created an FAQ page for questions concerning policies, this page gets edited on the fly in class when those questions are asked. The syllabus is interactive too, with links, etc. And finally, each group has their own set of pages from which they are compiling some really great information, links, articles and other media around post-colonialism, mission and church topics. It’s been a lot of fun watching it grow and see the students get excited about working together in this way, but I’ll be honest it’s a little daunting to keep track of all of it! Wetpaint does have a pretty good tracking backend which helps, but I’m glad I’m not the only TA this quarter.
Have you been in a class that’s used stuff like this, or seen it used well in the past? What’s been your experience?