I can trace a path from what we are trying to generate via Connected Courses back to my work creating syndicated courses to ds106 to early work at UMW Blogs all the way back to one dedicated writing teacher at Middlebury College who devised what may have been the first syndicated course.
Barbara Ganley has been a long time inspiration and a dear friend. We semi-regularly skype and I asked last time if I could record a short conversation about the idea behind the first “Motherblog” (as she called it).
As a writing teacher, she saw the potential for her students of writing (and reflecting) in a public space, with peers, so had planned to do a course in Fall of 2001 for a first year seminar course about Ireland and its history as portrayed in fiction and film. She describes what she could not have planned, that the first meeting of her class was September 11, 2001– a day when everything planned went awry.
“What if a class were a conversation?”
She had this idea of a federated syndicated class, and it was with some local tech expertise that this class was able to syndicate in student blogs (via RSS. cough. ahem. it. still. works.) to the course, or Motherblog.
All of this took place before there was social media. Before the LMSes were entrenched.
We talked about the outcomes writing in public, the challenges of assessment (she had her students build their own rubric), the amazing things her students did (and are still doing) how students were using media early, of the impact of the authors and people students were studying entering and being part of the course. One notable attribute that I respected in Barbara’s teaching, and also the ay Jim Groom taught/teaches– is that as a teacher she did the same assignments she asked of her students. She becomes part of the community, not some sort of policewoman/grade cop (my words, not hers).
There’s a lot to her ideas still key to what is happening in Connected Courses. Thanks Barbara for many things, sharing this time (and seeing your bobcat photos, get those on flickr!)