BLOGS/BLOGGING – Blogs, short hand from the original “web log,” have evolved from individual bloggers cataloguing useful information into single and multi-author sites for distributing information, offering commentary, and encouraging asynchronous conversations using a “comment” feature. Whereas threaded discussions offer a forum for more rapid banter about a topic, blogs tend to encourage in depth reflection. Many vendors have created blogging tools. Wordpress is currently the most popular (NOTE: WordPress.org offers software for creating blogs with many free templates; WordPress.com provides hosting and other supports for bloggers; the difference between them is explained here.) Mike Wallagher has created a useful blog that teaches how to Start Blogging Online.
Synchronous tools – chat, audio teleconferencing, and web conferencing
Gradecraft – Developed by Barry J. Fishman, a professor of information and education at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, “GradeCraft is a learning-management system that lets instructors organize their courses in a “gameful” way. The system lets students choose their own path through a course, selecting the assignments that interest and challenge them. At its heart is a tool, called the “grade predictor,” that helps to “manage some of the chaos” of such a personalized system. The grade predictor also helps students figure out what they need to do to reach the classroom goals they set for themselves. GradeCraft also aims to give students the ability to fail without detrimental consequences. There are many assignments to choose from, so any students who do poorly on one can find plenty of other tasks to redeem themselves. Instructors, meanwhile, can allow students to revise their work. Mr. Fishman’s assessment system treats unsuccessful assignments not as failures but as learning experiences that pull students closer to mastery.” (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 15, 2015, Casey Fabris)