Tuesday, February 13, 2007

BU students search for value with social networks

It's four weeks into my second semester teaching at Boston University, and I do feel like I've learned a few things. Compared to my first go-round, this time more than ever I am keeping Don Ronchi's words close to heart: "People create and navigate social networks best when the process is driven by the search for value" (which I first posted here).

Students come to my class largely ignorant of and uninterested in the science of networks. Last term I tried to teach them about networks with mixed results.

What my students do come hungry for is learning how to build their own websites. While it might be seen as a liability that I prefer not to teach website-building, I choose to use that as a pillar of instructional design: Instead of "teaching" that part of the class, instead I help my students learn that material from each other. Together we end up with a lot of cool website projects and very active social networking--which provides ideal case study material for the topic I most want to teach.

Every step of the way, I am thrilled with Moodle, the open-source course management system that is also one of the best collaborative platforms I've ever used. Please be my guest and visit our classroom.

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