Also, is it possible to set up some type of discussion forum for the class so that we could all discuss ideas etc.?
I was planning to set up a place for student discussion, though I’ve had difficulty getting students to use such forums in previous classes.
There are a few different ways I can do it, with differences in the ease of setting it up and how public the resulting forum is. Some students may feel inhibited about posting comments in a public forum, but it would allow people from outside the class to contribute.
One possibility is for students to comment on my blog posts on https://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com
That requires nothing new for me to set up, but is very public. Students could also make semi-anonymous comments (I’m the only person who would see the e-mail addresses).
Another possibility is for tech staff to create a class forum, which is very private (not even other UCSC students or researchers would have access). My experience with these is that no one ever looks at them or contributes, unless draconian methods are used to force them to. (Other faculty have had different experiences with forums—I don’t know what the magic is to make them work.)
Yet another possibility is for me to create a “google group” e-mail list with all the class members on it. This is private, but I can easily add group tutors or other mentors. Getting direct e-mail is more likely to induce students to participate than having to go to a special place on the web, but people’s email addresses would become know when they sent stuff to the mailing list.
Since you are the first to ask about a forum—what do you think would work well?
Now I’ll ask my blog readers. How do you set up on-line class discussion spaces? How does your institution interpret Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA regulations) about the privacy of student work? How do you get all students to participate?
UCSC takes a particularly extreme view about privacy and FERPA (see FERPA for Faculty):
Avoid inadvertently disclosing information from student records. For example:
- Do not place graded, identifiable student work in the hallway or an unmonitored area for students to pick up;
- Do not post grades publicly if grades are linked to a student ID number, name, or other identifier except for an exam number or unique ID known only to the instructor and student;
- Avoid requiring students to post identifiable homework assignments or projects in a publicly accessible on-line forum (e.g., Facebook, YouTube, and other social media spaces)
- Instead of requiring students to participate in a publicly accessible on-line blog, allow students to opt out, create a private blog, or consider using eCommons;
- If you use Doodle or a similar system to solicit or share calendar or schedule information, create a private poll so students’ information is not disclosed to other students;
- Obtain consent from new students before sharing any of their personal information, biographical or academic, with students, faculty, or others;
- Do not circulate or post a class roster that includes photograph or student ID number, and do not circulate or post a class roster of student names if the roster is available to persons outside the class;
- The “cloud computing” environment offers many handy and inexpensive applications. However, placing any information about students at a Web site not under contract with the University may raise FERPA issues. Make the use of these sites optional, or allow students concerned about privacy to provide their information to you in a secure manner.
These rules put some strong restrictions on what I can do. Whatever it is has to be either closed or allow students to use pseudonyms. I think I prefer having a public forum, where non-class members can comment, but only if I can ensure that students are not identifiable by outsiders.