Part of the fun of the Social Computing class is that we can look at ourselves and evaluate the social computing of our class. One way we have done that is to interview other members of the class regarding the group work they are involved in for the class. That gives us a view of the social computing taking place within groups and on team assignments.
Taking a larger view of the class as a whole, I have been evaluating my use of a blog for the class journal requirement. One reason that I wanted to blog my class journal entries was that I wanted them to be accessible to people outside the class so that I could get feedback from a wider audience. Very quickly I realized that there would be another large benefit to the class if everybody were blogging regularly – blogging on a regular basis would allow for people to have a much more interactive type of conversation between class members because of the nature of RSS publishing.
In one of my entries I talked about having a week long conversation rather than a 36 hour conversation every week. I was referring to the fact that most of the blogging done for class is done within the 36 hours before our class meets. It occurred to me that I might not be checking the discussion boards frequently enough and the discussion might be happening there – although I believe that to be a less convenient way to have the discussion. I looked through the discussion boards and found that the majority of posts to the discussion boards take place – amazingly – within the 36 hours before our class meets.
My conclusion is that there is a student pattern of focusing closely on the topic related to class right before there will be some face to face accountability. I claim no superiority in this regard, but cognitively I know that what should be happening for the most effective learning to take place is for the conversation to be continuous. We should be thinking a little bit and then sharing a little bit and then thinking a little bit more about what others have shared throughout the week.
I am not sure if this pattern can be changed within the short span of a semester, but I will try personally to get myself out of that rut – not only for this class, but for all my classes. Perhaps we can talk about this in preparation for our next class, but that is unlikely since nobody is likely to come look at my posting until 36 hours before we meet again.