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Interview Summaries - Lisa

Michael Main & Hal Eden


I interviewed Professor Michael Main about his use of WebCTís message board, and I spoke with Hal about using Wikis (the swiki) and the EDC. The most notable topics are below.

WebCT
  • The WebCT Bulletin Board is only used after the professor encourages students to use it.
  • It is useful because it allows him to answer questions quickly
  • UI is unintuitive
  • Data persistence disappears after the semester
  • It encourages students to collaborate and ask each other questions which can be good and bad. Good if they answer correctly, bad if they donít.

Wiki (Swiki)
  • Goal: Make class more participatory and add elements to the course outside of the classroom.
  • Using the Swiki has been a struggle. It encourages discussion, but some of that discussion takes place in the classroom. The discussion takes place in 2 different places: on-line and in class. How can we merge those two together? The context from class isnít there.
  • Not very good for extending the classroom, but itís good for group collaboration.
  • People are supposed to build on each otherís responses, but it hasnít really happened yet. Why? Some people may still be stuck in the Ďtraditionalí mode of learning (everyone does their own work, donít copy, etc).
  • It has increased the willingness to collaborate Ė now students can work together without being together!
  • Swiki is pretty good because it doesnít need a lot of technical background to use and is easy for the less tech-savvy to learn


Ideas and Insights about Collaboration
  • Invent the Holodeck
  • Have laptops run mini-EDCs. Each group/person works on a different part of the project which can later be integrated into the whole.
  • Create software tools that facilitate face to face meetings. Allow meetings to happen more easily. Ė easy for people to get to, and they are better prepared
  • Contents are pushed to you rather than you having to get it. A meeting tool that identifies situations and is naggy.
  • Face to face interaction is important
  • How important is technology to collaboration? It shouldnít get in the way, and it needs to be easy to use. Fortunately, people are getting more and more used to prevalent technology, and they are more capable of learning new technologies.
  • Effectively using the new inputs (of clickers) requires teachers to change the way they teach. What happens if half the class gets the question wrong? Should he/she prepare extra slides in the event of a problem?
  • thereís a time and a place for all the different modes of learning (working alone, working in groups, and working together online)
  • collaboration is more isolating now because of the Internet. Itís the ďwhite board vs. message boardĒ. Itís a narrower bandwidth to communicate over.
  • What are the goals of collaboration?
o Understanding the subject matter better
o Learning collaborative skills
  • People should be good at both individual work and collaboration. Some classes play to the individual aspect, and this class plays to the collaborative experience.

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