Technologies we are using to “Extend your online course”

I thought I would summarise, briefly the technologies we are using on our new OCSLD online course: “Extending your online course“. After all, we are “extending” an online course. How are we doing it?

We start with Google Applications or Google Apps for short. Particularly we are using Google Apps for Education as provided by Oxford Brookes University. This provides us with the main framework for the principal course site. Google Apps also provides Google Docs, which we used for collaborative writing in the Social Citation Exercise. Google Docs has been the environment in which the course has been drafted and in which the transcripts for the audio are written before being pasted into the site. Google Apps also provides Spreadsheets and Forms. Forms allow us to collect data such as participant profile information and to conduct the survey into people’s social media tool kit. The final piece of Google “kit” we are using is a “Gadget” called RSSReader+. Strictly, this is not Google kit, but an approved third party extension available through the wide community of independent developers who write little bits of code that are useful and make them available through the Google Gadget “ecosystem”. Ajax Gaier wrote RSSReader+. This gadget enables us to display a stream of RSS feeds – in this case four different Twitter searches on the home page of the course site.

So, we are using Twitter for the course, too, primarily as a way of collaboratively sharing links to items which the course participants and tutors discover in their Twitter communities. To focus our attention we use the convention of “hash tagging” using the tag #eyolc for extending your online course. But, we also use Twitter for occasional social commentary on the course and how it is going, and to draw attention to the existence of the course itself through our various networks, which follow us on Twitter.

From Twitter we also pull feeds into the Extending Your Online Course “weekly paper”. And we are using the Archivist as an aggregator for the #eyolc tweets which shows the frequency of communication and other Twitter stats.

We are using WordPress for this blog, in an installation of the software called BrookesBlogs hosted on servers which we maintain for the purposes of archiving two JISC support and synthesis projects.

We use Audacity to record audio commentary and we use AudioBoo to upload, host and embed the audio streams on the site.

Finally – a big “finally” – we are using Blackboard CE8 (the WebCT legacy version) to host the discussion forums and the Virtual Classroom.

The Virtual Classroom itself is Wimba Classroom, also a Blackboard property, recently acquired with Elluminate and being rolled together into “Blackboard Collaborate“.

What else?

Two tools that are not being used, but should be by my reckoning, are Bibsonomy, or some other social bookmarking tool for sharing links in a more structured way than provided for by Twitter, and Zotero or some other social citation tool for sharing full bibliographic citations and reading lists.

About the author

George Roberts

George has been at Oxford Brookes since 2000 and joined OCSLD in June 2006 as an Educational Developer (e-Learning). In his previous role he advised the Head of e-Learning and the Senior Management Team of the University on policy for off-campus e-learning and e-learning partnerships.

He leads the MA Education (Higher Education) and teaches on the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (PCTHE) as well as conducting Course Design Intensives (CDIs) and other educational development activities: workshops and consultancies.

He leads the Learning domain in the development of the University’s Technology Enhanced Learning framework.

He wrote his doctorate (July 2011) at the University of Southampton on biographical narratives of adult users of a community IT centre on a large social housing estate.

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