Building a Teaching Community the
Web 2.0 Way
In a recent post to Teaching and Learning Excellence, "a collaborative meeting place for faculty and staff" at UW-Madison, Jim Rogers described Web 2.0 technology in general and a number of specific examples, including blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, etc. The follow-up comments posted after the article list some more examples and expound on the ways this technology has changed the way we interact with each other.
When you log in and read their profiles, you realize both of these commenters are members of DoIT's Academic Technology staff. As such, it's certainly unsurprising that they have opinions regarding the topic of the post. But it seems likely that their comments are also meant as a model for other users--a little priming of the site-participation pump. Unfortunately, no one's followed their lead just yet on this particular article.
This page seems to be a microcosm of the site as a whole: the useful content, clean site design, and Web 2.0 feature set are all in place. But in many cases, the conversation has yet to fully take off.
Sponsored by the UW-Madison Teaching Academy, the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning, and DoIT Academic Technology, Teaching and Learning Excellence (not to be confused with Teaching and Learning Insights, which you're reading right now) is organized primarily into solutions, resources, blogs, and discussions:
- The solutions (53 of them as of June 17) range from quick tips on where to go to get help writing better exams or re-energizing established courses to longer pieces excerpted from current research on teaching and learning.
- The resources are organized by category, with plenty of local ones such as "UW Policies on Teaching and Learning."
- The discussions are message-based forums where users swap ideas on topics like increasing student success.
- The blogs section currently features "Thoughts on Teaching and Learning," written by Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Aaron Brower.
Almost all of the site's content can be syndicated via RSS feeds to make it easy to stay current, rated on a five-star system to indicate usefulness or quality, tagged with appropriate labels to facilitiate searching and cross-referencing, saved or shared via popular social networking sites, and commented on by users who sign in with their NetID.
You don't have to spend much time on the Teaching and Learning Excellence site to understand that serious care has gone into its design and implementation. One hopes that, with increased participation among faculty and staff, it can serve as a genuine collaborative meeting place and a go-to resource for solving the problems all teachers face.
We've started to do our part here at Teaching and Learning Insights, making (an admittedly self-promotional) resource submission. We hope our readers will also navigate over, sign in, and join the conversation: tle.wisc.edu.