I was talking to a couple of professors yesterday who were teaching online classes this summer in a pilot program. To say the least, they were having a great deal of trouble using the technology. Now I didn’t look at it a long time, but it struck me how clunky, un-userfriendly, and awkward the program was (I think it was designed by WebCT of Blackboard). It seemed as if everything required 42 clicks to do. I said to those professors, as I have said here before, “have you considered using a blog? I think it could do everything you want, and much easier.” Now in this case it is not possible as they are a) part of a pilot program looking at using this system (“ohh please someone stop them before they do this”) b) they need a chat system (so you would need something to supplement the blog. It still astounds me that Universities are willing to pay 10’s in some cases 100’s of thousands of dollars for educational software that frustrates students and educators. Seems to me a better choice to hire a few staff with that money that could train faculty how to use the many free resources that are already out there.
I know, I know, I keep promising to do a long post on how to set up a blog for using in the classroom, a sort of ground-up to complicated tricks how-to. But for now I am not teaching a class, and I am sort of waiting to have one I am working on to walk through. In the meantime though check out edublogs’s tutorials. They have four brief, but thorough tutorials on the mechanics of setting up a blog for your classroom. And while you are at it you might give a listen to James Farmer’s presentation on online learning. James is the guru behind edublogs, and is incredible insightful when it comes to these matters. I don’t agree with some of what he says here, but he definitely sets us in the right direction.