Thursday, September 29, 2011

Off-topic supports community in Moodle

This year, I gave my students a place to converse on the Moodle that didn’t have to be about school.  In the past, I didn’t have this.  I thought maybe it wouldn’t be necessary since many students are already on Facebook.  But the Coffee House has been a popular place, at least for the 8th grade.

They have discussed Rebecca Black, running (I have some serious runners), peanut butter, birthdays...

My only rule is that language is respectful and appropriate.  I get an email for every post.  This gives me less of the conversation – because there are several threads going on – but I get to read each post without having to hunt through the threads for the latest posts (to get this, subscribe when you're setting up the forum).  Clicking on the right place in the email takes me right into the conversation.

I called it the Coffee House because I want my students to think of it as a place to chat that doesn’t feel like school.  So far, that’s what they’re using it for. 

In an all-online course, I know from experience as a student, that this kind of forum really encourages connections, building relationships, and trust.  I hadn’t thought this would be so important in a blended class, since students see each other in class every day.  But I’m glad to see this it’s providing another place for connection.  I don't make them post.  But they're there. 

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