Well-Contented Students

Hello comrades!

So aside from come punny wordplay in the title, I wanna get all simulacrum today by first quoting the quote that Tony quoted from Jim:

“We will not be defined by our online learning spaces. We are shapers of space, the masters of innovation. And whatever damn system the American higher education consumer market imposes upon us—we shall rise above and create something engaging and empowering for students.”


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Given the theme of this week’s lesson, I couldn’t help thinking about the pronoun “we” and its relationship to students. While I love being the shaper of space and the master of innovation, this unit has me wondering how I can help students shape their own intellectual space while mastering innovative learning environments (or compositional environments). How do we (teachers and students) collectively create something engaging and empowering for everyone? How do we make sure that students define their online learning spaces rather than letting these spaces define them?

Warnock provides a lot of solid suggestions that allow us to leverage online technologies with student-created content, and we’ve proposed many excellent ones. Canvas, Google Docs, WordPress, Instagram, and other platforms all provide outlets for us to encourage students to create and share content in online spaces. Honestly, the idea of student generating content feels a bit easier in OWcourses than f2f—BUT I stand to be proven wrong! When it comes to student-created content in an OWcourse, I’ve been thinking about doing the exact reverse of what we do here.

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(Big shout-out to Yolanda’s post from last week that kind inspired what follows): Rather than posting a blog and then sharing it on a discussion board where we chat about it, I am thinking about using Canvas Discussions as a place to brainstorm and WordPress as a place to publish. Discussion boards will act as a semi-private space where students can explore and revise ideas while being in conversation with their peers. The WordPress is a student-shaped space where they are free to demonstrate their mastery over innovative digital technologies. Students can create and cultivate their own unique blogs where they can post polished writing in public venues. This enables them not only to share their work with broader audiences, but it also allows them to think about the transformation of learning material into live content. Moreover, these blogs can act as digital portfolios that highlight the evolution of a students’ work over the course. Students can also freely personalize their blogs to reflect their own goals for their site.


To be sure, while Google Docs and Course Discussions are vital tools in an OWCourse, I want to find outlets that encourage “individual students to make individual decisions” that enhance their composition (quote from Tony), and I feel like having them design an online writing presence can facilitate that. All together, I want students to recognize that they too are shapers of space and masters of innovation who can also learn to create something engaging and empowering for themselves and others.