Reading Tony Karrer's summary on Monday, I was struck by the freedom that the course gives students. More importantly, however, was the ability this course has had to bring problems and questions from novices and experts alike for the community to work on together.
For example, this week's topic is social bookmarking. A number of us brought up the question of sharing resources (either groups working together or doing research together). I have worked with delicious for 6 months now, and while not an expert, neither am I a novice at using delicious. I have even figured out how to use it with my students so they can access clips I use in class. However, this week, just reading through the resources, having access to indepth instructions on how to set up diigo, and looking at the resources that many from different experience and backgrounds are bookmarking, I am learning more than I can really process at this time.
This got me to thinking about the instructional design of courses using social networking tools.
- There needs to be some structure so students aren't overwhelmed (the WLning has a nice flow to it with a definate structure)
- There needs to be moderators. I also joined in with the francophones' discussions (despite my ugly French which I write as I speak--it probably is driving the members crazy!). Without a moderator, the discussions are dead in the water. More importantly, the moderators have also helped us focus our learning, while still allowing us the freedom to set our own goals and level of participation.
- There needs to be freedom for students to set their learning goals and level of participation within the community.
- There needs to be a recognition of the diversity within a community and the sub-groups. Social networking tools allow for interaction within and between groups.
- There are multiple motivators in using social networking tools. In some cases, students are motivated by the community; in other cases, students are motivated by individual learning which social networking tools can afford; and in still other cases, students are interested in the content, which social networking tools provides by diverse means.