Non LMS Toolkit
As a Dashboard I would use New Hive. Visually, it has the potential to look absolutely gorgeous, and seems as though it has enough flexibility to act as a good central hub to link students to the course content. One of the downsides is that there does not seem to be a built in Calendar. To schedule my course events I would most likely use Google’s Calendar as it allows me to share dates with my students and synch them to other mobile devices or calendars that they may be using. As there does not appear to be an option for hosting a blog on New Hive, I would use either WordPress or Kidblog depending on the age of my students. I would prefer to use WordPress, as I like all the options it has to customize your site. You could easily use WordPress to create an e-portofolio / journal to reflect on your learning. By tagging your posts and setting up different categories to file your posts under you could easily have your blog set up as place to post more structured evidence of learning, as well as more free form reflections on your process. If you want your blog to collect one type of student response, Kidblog may be a better fit as it is much more user-friendly, especially for students who may not have much blogging experience.
In terms of building community, I would like to give Twitter another shot. I have had a bit of a love hate relationship with twitter, but I’m warming to it more each time I use it. With class specific hashtags and synchronous and asynchronous options for holding discussions, it seems like a flexible way to communicate with students. While it may not be ideal for handling longer reflections, it certainly has the potential to build a strong community through more informal interactions outside of specific classroom goals. If I wanted discussions to remain private, and be more focused I may try a site such as Collaborize Classroom, which offers forums to focus on specific topics, give options on how students respond, and provide ways to bring the discussions to an end, and “publish” the discussion for later review.
A further way to have students communicating and working together would be to bring in a site such as Wikispaces. Students are able to create profiles, pages, and link to each other’s contributions to create a tapestry of learning that builds on each other’s contributions. I would also use Google Docs for projects on which groups of students are working together. It is a great way not only to delegate tasks, but also to have groups work out their schedules and responsibilities when undertaking a new assignment. It also allows teachers to comment on student work, and provide feedback on the finished product. In terms of presenting material, I really like the site Soo Meta. It allows you to collect pictures, videos, and text from around the web and weave them into your presentation.
For handing in assignments I prefer to use Dropbox and the DROPitTOme app, which allows students to upload content to a Dropbox without having an account. Dropbox can handle a lot of information coming in, and allows you to set up different folders and privacy restrictions to help to catalogue the incoming data. To keep track of my assessment I would use Learnboost, which offers a streamlined grade book that can integrate with Google’s calendar and document apps. Learnboost offers a lot of options for customizing my grading scales, and presenting the information when completed.
Whoo! Lots of different websites to keep track of, but I think it could all work, especially if everything is linked to a Dashboard area such as New Hive. Lots of learning and trouble shooting ahead, and probably many more websites to explore and assess as I continue to move towards bringing in resources that will work for myself and my students.
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