Anonymous Student Blogging – Reflections
I have set up a few pages at pageflakes.com as supplementary resource pages to encourage collaboration among students and colleagues.One is a computers resource page, and the other, English.
I encourage anonymous participation: no names, no course codes, no personally identifying details, no institutional documents – in effect, an entirely anonymous resource page for a group of peers and learners I have invited.
On the pageflakes computers page, for example, there is a group blog, my own blogroll (as the creator and page owner), a task list, a calendar, a list of shared bookmarks, a forum, highlighted videos and podcasts, and I can add/revise the items to be added as needed. Though the course names are never specified, the tags attached to the bookmarks do identify generic terms that both instructors and students can make use of.
For the English page, there is a wikipedia search field, bookmarks, blog, to-do list and calendar.
There is a simple, compelling reason to introduce this. To use the web to encourage participation, yet do so that does not infringe on the institutional restrictions. It is a learning community, showcasing how various resources can be used. I encourage others to do the same, and I can link from this page to others, enhancing the usefulness of the resource.
One issue has to do with blurred boundaries for grad students/instructors, who move between a number of learning networks for a number of various reasons. I am exploring how effective it is for me to blend the knowledge and resources across different networks.
My intuition is that by drawing ideas from one closed network and sharing it with another (repurposed for another audience) the very act of sharing is key to promoting learning, and provides a model for others (colleagues, instructors, students) to do the same.
An example that cam up the other night was a suggestion by a student about a chat service. The student chose the tag “strangers” and it is a link to an anonymous chat application called Omegle at http://omegle.com/. I am now blogging about it, and will add the bookmark to several other networks. This is an example of true co-learning at work, where students of mine are introducing me to new resources, and I am passing it along in turn.