I just posted this over to Karl Kapp's Kapp Notes blog. He is using Second Life with classes - far beyond what I'm trying. But he's bound to have questions similar to mine.
I'm having very mixed thoughts and feelings as I begin blogging with first-semester master's students. Many feel unprepared and overwhelmed - not just with the technology but with the expectation to:
- Have something to say in an area that's new to them
- Have a voice in a public conversation
- Care enough about the issues to drive their participation
These are things that come gradually for most students. Here they are though - out there looking for things to say, finding ways to join the conversation, looking for a reason beyond "class assignment" to participate.
One thing we haven't discussed much - my pushing the technology as a near-end in itself. What at the learning goals that drive our blogging requirement? Am I not guilty of the first ed-tech leader's original sin - pushing the technology ahead of the learning?
My response to that question is, maybe exploring technology's learning potential is a little techno-centric, but we'll never know the learning gains until we try some things out. The risks are there, but the benefits are too - getting out of the weekly readings/discussion cycle that drives most graduate education classes. Asking students to hurry up the development cycle and quickly assume a professional identity - that's an exciting prospect to try out, even if it doesn't totally succeed.