Absolutely worth it, despite crashing asleep in my chair at 2pm. Today was showtime for final project presentations by students at a course at the Hague University of Applied Sciences… the third year I have had the opportunity to be part of Project Community.
With the indefatigable ‘I will comment on every student’s post’ Nancy White, and the NGO partners the students worked with, we got to join the faculty and students premiere of their projects. It’s super impressive to hear the student intros, they are from all corners of the world, and learn to work together and with project clients, whoa re located in different parts of the world too.
Project Community is both a project, a community and a set of tools for using online communities and networks for enhancing the design process in any context.
Nancy and I were invited to create an online community space for this course in 2012; the course leaders wanted the students to write reflectively in their own web sites, so I was asked to bring in the Feed WordPress juice to create the course hub.
They went with my suggestion that rather than asking students to learn all about a blog platform, to have them create tumblr sites for their course work so they just focus on writing (makes the Feed Wrangler’s job a bit easier with feeds from the same platform).
We had 80+ students in 2014, and using the categorizing feature of Feed WordPress we can create sub views of the twelve student groups. The faculty/tutors also blog in their own spaces and we even add feeds for the NGO partners the students work with.
The course design has improved incredibly this year; in years past we struggled with organizing large hangouts with all the students; this year the hangouts were all at the group level as they consulted with Nancy and the NGO partners. Since 2013 we have had student groups partner with real NGOs where their task is to consult and advise them in strategies for improving their processes through online tools and community building (see this year’s project partners).
We enjoyed the creativity in the design and variety of their final five minute videos, the production quality has absolutely notched up noticeably this year. But this year, the blog writing has gotten more in depth, thoughtful, and using more media (see the last series of student posts).
Also new this year, although it meant that the hangout session ended up going 3 1/2 hours (as much as Google Hangouts can make me twitch, the fact we can have a free video conference this long is golden), was Nancy and I got to participate in the presentation assessment discussion with Laura, Gabriela, Janneke, and Meggie.
This is no massive course. It’s not actually even open in the sense of being a course where open participants join. It’s not something that cost $200,000 to produce – we are using the usual suspects of WordPress blogs, Feed WordPress, tumblr, Youtube, (students use Facebook), a site housed on Reclaim Hosting.
We actually were pleasantly surprised when they wanted to re-run the project in 2013, then this year, so you can certainly expect another one starting August 2015.
I’ve nto yet full organized the site as it ought to be. They are all now separate WordPress installs (which actually are not a problem to manage with Reclaim Hosting’s Installatron). Previously, i would manually create an archive site at the end of the course, but this time I structured it to be “pre-archived” so we have:
- General Info and menu at http://projectcommunity.info
I have a “template” I made before this year’s course, and can use the Installatron clone capability to make a fresh copy for 2015.
It might be more logical as a multi-site install, which is how I would do it if I was starting a new.
Staying awake for 2015! It’s a joy to be part of this.