Today is our last class of the semester in the seminar which is using a wiki. I am trying something today for that class, which in retrospect isn’t that big a deal–it seems very straightforward for me, and yet, I’d never thought of doing it quite this way.
The class asked if we could use today to work on their final group projects (more on this later) and I agreed. In the last month, I’ve begun to use IM to communicate with my students–the seminar group took it on themselves to teach me, but that’s another story. Anyway, what I’d be doing in class today is sitting, watching the groups work, and occasionally answering a question. Yesterday it occurred to me–I don’t need to be physically present in the classroom to do that.
So, I am sitting in my kitchen, drinking coffee and holding virtual class (or I will be in 30 minutes). I will be watching their progress on the wiki and will be accessible via IM. I’ve done this before without IM, but only because I was unable to be in class. Today it’s a choice, and I feel confident that IM provides a level of real time communication that isn’t available on the wiki.
Postscript: It worked pretty well. I spent about half the classtime, responding to questions. I told students they needed to document what they accomplished today, and they did so. One group in particular made a lot of progress on the project.