Building a “Blogosphere” for Program and Student Evaluation & Communication

Building a “Blogosphere” for Program and Student Evaluation & Communication

We’re up and running with the second year of student entering the IT&DML program. As detailed in previous posts, we’re believers in open, and transparency for instructors and students in the program. As a result, students maintain and post openly to their own blogs.

The blog posts are typically for regular reflection and response throughout the program. At times they are required to post openly to their blogs. At times they choose to post their responses to their blogs and share to public or private discussion groups in G+, Twitter, or elsewhere. Students also use the blogs to share materials and ideas online to develop and connect with their own PLNs. The hope is that students will recognize the power involved in blogging openly about their work and thinking…and continue to do so after they’ve completed the program.

We wanted to develop a system to aggregate all student and instructor blog posts, and funnel everything out in one direction. This would be a good way to keep track of work that everyone was doing in the course, and as a result routinely assess the health and direction of the program in general. To this end, we set up our own automatic system that collects and broadcasts all posts:

  1.  All students create, maintain, and post publicly to their own blog. They add their blog URL to a Google Spreadsheet we use as a student database. 
  2. We take the URL from all student and instructor blogs and create a thread in Feedly using all of the RSS feeds from the blogs.
  3. I then take the content from this new “IT&DML” thread in Feedly and automatically post them to Twitter using the following IFTTT recipe
  4. IFTTT automatically re-posts these to the IT&DML Twitter account for the world to review.
What is nice is that the IT&DML Twitter account is a nice way to see at a glance the work that everyone is trying to tackle at any given point in the program. Students can use this Twitter feed to quickly review the work of other students, connect, and keep on track of their own work. Instructors can use this to keep up with the steady stream of work we’re all sharing. We also can use this to evaluate and assess the program over time.
We are sharing and working publicly for a reason. We invite you to add, review, and connect with the scholars that are learning and sharing openly online. Please join in our “blogosphere” and join with us.

Image CC by opensourceway

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