The senior seminar I’m teaching this semester (though it has some juniors) has essentially the same digital tool set as the First Year Seminar I taught in the Fall. I’ve been struck by how this term’s students have used the tool set differently.
One example is Dave’s taking and posting of the notes of each class session. I never asked for this. He simply started doing it the first week. He was a member of my Contemporary Issues seminar last year where Katie started the practice of posting class notes on the wiki. (Note to Self: At the end of the semester, I should ask the extent to which classmates consulted his notes.) When Dave missed class once, someone else stepped in. In fact, another student planned to post her notes, but the first person beat her to it.
Dave’s class notes are just one exemplar of a more general theme: this seminar’s group has really made the wiki their own. Note the announcement of today’s social gathering at the top of the page. Have we created a community of learners? For a more substantive example, the students posted detailed discussion of their group research presentations on the wiki, though I never told them to do so. They simply turned in different parts of the presentation assignment there. Contrast this with the hesitation expressed by the freshmen about editing things on the wiki, which they said was due to the fact that they were reluctant to change each others’ words. The senior seminar students haven’t changed each others words very much but that hasn’t prevented them from redesigning and repurposing the wiki to make it fit their vision of the course. Some of this difference is no doubt due to the greater cognitive development of the more advanced students and the fact that they know me better. I wonder, though, if there isn’t more to it.
Another thing that struck me was that it’s clear that students used sources identified and annotated on the wiki to write their formal papers. Using previous work of others, posted on the wiki, is a good example of the collective learning that social software supports. Excellent!