One of the most exciting--and unnerving!--things that the WWWboard fosters
is an ongoing conversation about the course's progress. Below you'll
find links to student commentary about a few elements of the class.
The First Session
In the first MOO session, students were assigned the role of a critic
in a debate on the literary canon, which they had read in their anthology.
Their task was to impersonate their critic, representing the critic's position
and responding to the other voices in the debate as the critic might.
There were three students for each critical role. All students sat
at the same virtual table, where they could hear every other person "speaking."
Notice that students both reward me by saying what worked and why the
activity was fun, and also gently suggest ways of improving the MOO experience
The Second Session
In the second MOO, we abandoned role-playing for the examination of
several virtual artifacts I had created drawn from the two novels the class
read. As we have seen, students were assigned to groups and divided
among three tables. They then had to answer discussion questions
based on the objects and their functions in the narratives.
This second session was by far the most popular of the semester.
As students remark above, they found the objects fun to examine and the
discussions stimulating. I tried to provide more of the same
in the next session, not realizing that they had just enough the
second time around.
The Third Session
The third session was a scavenger hunt of sorts. The groups were
asked to visit several sites at the virtual university--including worlds
based on Shakespeare's London and my own simulation of a setting from Hwang's
M. Butterfly--and collect information from the robotic characters
they encountered. As you'll see, this Disneyesque experience didn't
quite live up to expectations.
As a result of these complaints, the activities of the fourth MOO session
were carefully scaled back, with plenty of time left for discussion.
Here's a list of postings about various aspects of the course.
Using the WWWboard has gotten me used to hearing things--good and bad--about
my courses that I probably wouldn't have heard otherwise.
As you can see, at least on the WWWboard, these students were not
shy about voicing their opinions on the class and the readings. Things
ran rather smoothly overall in this class; in other courses where
there have been bigger problems, the WWWboard has worked as a real pressure
valve, helping me to recognize and address student concerns.
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