Well, last month was especially busy as we start looking for colleges for next year for my son and he registered to take a couple of college courses while he is in high school. I'll blog about that experience later.
Today, though, was the first day of classes for me. I'm excited as I'm trying out 3 new things:
1) I've created a facebook group in place of the Ning. Since Ning went commercial and I don't have time to test out the new mechanisms for educators, I decided to try facebook. Many of my students are already on facebook, so I thought I'd give it a try. They can upload their video assignments, ask questions about the class, and/or get updated information about the class. The only thing I have been unable to figure out is how to upload documents (I think I'll end up just emailing them).
2) I've decided to include a real audience for my students. For their group presentation assignment, they will either go into an actual classroom and give a presentation on college life or they will create a vodcast which will then be viewed by a real life class.
3) I have included the original Shirley Sherrod speech to view as one of the class assignments. For those that may be unfamiliar with her, she was the Department of Agriculture employee who was fired (or asked to resign) because of an "inflammatory speech." A section of the speech was uploaded as a clip on a conservative blog and the clip, which was taken out of context from the entire speech, accused Ms. Sherrod of discrimination. However, when you watch the entire speech, Ms. Sherrod's message was the complete opposite, advocating reaching out and giving support across races so that the poor of our country can be lifted out of poverty. In fact, it is a very inspirational speech in which she breaks many stereotypes (i.e. all people of color are powerless, all poor people are people of color, if you are white, you have access to power and privilege). My objective in using this speech is to discuss how to craft a speech without having portions lifted to be used against the speaker and/or give an unintended message. I feel this is especially important in the electronic age of sound bites.