Collaborative Spaces and Education
The Web

WWW and MU* Intersections: The Message Forum

WWW space can be used to generate ideas for MU* space. Message forums provide a place to collaborate on varying topics for exploration, finding culturally/socially relative materials from the Internet to share, and then creating specific artifacts or gleaning future assignments.

In the Rhetoric of Epic Narratives, a WWW message forum was used extensively in two generate from "raw" WWW holdings, usable material for the course. As Daniel Anderson addresses, message forums are incredible ways of archiving knowledge for a continually changing site. I also felt a serious need to find ways to not only encourage students to surf the vast holdings of the WWW, but to present *suitable* materials for the rest of the class to explore and use, and then have a stable resource to refer to.

Students eventually saw themselves as part owner of our site. No longer was the site "Joi's" or the "instructor's" with no chance of mutability, but instead it became the 'class site', and running dialogues about the cultural constructs about the reading texts evolved. The continuously updated message forum (every 30 seconds) required a special script, which Daniel also describes. Posts and responses to others appeared literally before the students eyes.
The message forum was used to stockpile WWW sites which would illuminate our readings, tell us something about the periods we were examining. Eventually, the message forum became a metadiscussion of sorts...outside of the class, but firmly within it as well. Topics that could not be discussed in class found a home on the forum and of course, would spill over into discussions. Additionally, some of the work on the message forum turned into artifacts for AcademICK.

A form was created for MU* projects, to "turn in" finished work, right from the virtual computer-classroom. I did not have to wait for class to receive student work, but could receive assignments as they were done right from the WWW, and from the WWW mailform created by our CWRL Systems Administrator.

This ability to adapt and focus system resources to a specific class or assignment has been one of the most compelling reasons to begin to explore the 'server side' of the classroom. To create interactive forums and forms which were time-independent freed up much classroom time. Being able to read forum posts from home was an invaluable resource for me and students. Being able to receive e-mailed results on MU* projects also allowed students and myself a lot more independence. Please feel free to browse the message forum and don't be surprised by the reloading every 30 seconds.

Daniel did mention that our brilliant Administrator left, didn't he? We didn't run him off with demands, we promise.

Opening Teaching Theory The Web MU*S Conversation

Daniel Anderson
Joi Lynne Chevalier