Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Power of Re-Use and Randomization: Students Advise Students

One of the things I like best about teaching and learning in a digital environment is how easy it is to reuse and recycle useful materials. I'm also a big believer in the power of random as a way to manage abundance: either an abundance of people and/or an abundance of stuff. So, I had a lot of fun with this little project today, which is a good example of recycling AND randomizing: I made a giant list of advice that students in past classes shared with future students, and then I used (a randomizing javascript tool built by a genius former student) to display bits of advice at random!


Students from the past are obviously the best possible advisors for students in the future, so I really want to maximize the use of this material. Here's an overview of how it all came together:

1. In the past I had a blog post where I asked students to leave comments for future students; this semester, I asked students to write up that advice at their own blogs, and I collected those posts using Inoreader. The students' blog posts contained feedback for me AND advice for future students, so I went through the posts to find advice for me and advice for students and I wrote up this page with the advice for students: The Voice of Students Past.

2. Since the total list of advice is so long, I created a randomizer to display bits of advice at random. I included that random advice on the class website page, and I will probably add the advice randomizer on other pages at the class website too! You can see the randomizer in action at the top of the post; reload the post to see more random bits of advice.

3. More reuse: I will include the advice randomizer in the daily class announcements. Students see the announcements whenever they log on to D2L, for example, so that will be another way to keep the advice appearing and re-appearing!

4. And even more reuse: I need to go through the advice list and extract Twitter-sized pieces. That way I can share advice through our class Twitter stream each day too.

ADVICE: It's something we all need... and good advice bears repeating. I'm glad to have this way to share and re-share advice from past students with the new students this semester! Content reuse, content recycling: waste not, want not. :-)

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