The idea of requiring students to present their work via the internet is often met with trepidation by educators. Which concerns are valid? Which are hype? What are the merits of having students present in a public space? In which circumstances do the advantages supersede the concerns? For your writing post this week, weigh the value against the danger of public homework and online student participation.
I’m a big supporter of having students posting their work online in a public forum for several reasons. First, I believe that it helps students understand the legitimacy of what else is being posted online. If they understand that someone else who is just as knowledgeable as they are might be publishing information about a topic of interest. If they find an “article” on a blog post, it might be an assignment for a similar class that that student might be taking. The information might not be as well researched or accurate as they think and it might not be who they might traditionally think a publisher of information might be. This practice should make them skeptical and be willing to question everything they see online. To go along with this same line of thinking, students who are asked to publish online should be expected to publish their best work and should be more careful to post legitimate and accurate information.
I also do believe that there are occasions when students feel they need to protect their legal name so having an alias is an acceptable practice. Just as long as the teacher knows who you are, it isn’t necessary to publish your name. Allowing for an alias is also a way to make sure you’re in line with FERPA regulations. But I don’t believe having an alias should be a replacement for not being responsible for what you do post or publish online. If you’re publishing anything hurtful or potentially harmful, then you need to take responsible for your actions.
I think the chance of anyone outside of your own cohort actually reading things you post online are pretty slim. And getting someone you don’t know who might make a comment, is even more unlikely. It takes people who want to have a communicative following, years to build and grow that following. And if someone does find you and contradicts what you may have written, that should provide the author with the opportunity to refine and restate and at least be involved in hearing a different opinion. All of these are actions that benefit learning.
Students might cheat. Students will cheat. Some student will always try to find a way to go the easy route. This is why your assessments need to be authentic and challenging so that if a student does find a way to cheat, perhaps they are actually learning along the way. This is also a reason to have multiple assessments so that you and your students are all looking at a variety of performances to show understanding.
I’m also a supporter of using the creative commons licensing for things you create and publish online. If you look at my ONID portfolio, you’ll see I have a license for my site. I have also been double posting my discussion prompts both inside of Canvas and on my site. I’d be thrilled if anyone actually found me!