In Search of Student-Generated Content in Online Education

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REPOSITORIES OF STUDENT-GENERATED CONTENT I'd like to add something to John Sener's answer to his own question "Why are good examples so hard to find?" However, let's begin with the question "What is student-generated content?" Indispensable to online education are Web forums. Students' messages appear there as student-generated content. Unfortunately, too rarely those academic Web forums are available to all Internauts. "Unfortunately" -- because this kind of student-generated content is often very valuable. I agree that our Web discussions with students improve learning effectiveness. What's more, they "can contribute value as a lasting product [...] to future students (e.g. by creating learning resources)", all over the world, I hope. And here lies the problem. The product isn't lasting. It's quite opposite -- our Web discussions conducted with students all over the world are as ephemeral as ephemeral are many Web pages and URLs. Also the website academici recommended extensively two years ago ( http://www.aacsb.edu/publications/Archives/JulyAug05/p52-55.pdf ) turned out to be such an ephemeral website. In order to quote the content generated there by the then student ( http://www.bebo.com/anasastro ) and currently Graduate School Administrator ( http://www.ucd.ie/humansciences/graduate/gscontact.htm ), I've had to use my private archives [ http://europa.eu/debateeurope/index.htm > English > European Discussion Forum > Europe's borders and its role in the world > EU-Africa Summit (iSpy, 14/10/2007) > RE: African dividends (Tadeusz Lemańczyk, 16/10/2007) > China's Conquest 2005-11-29 stacy altman ( http://www.lemant.user.icpnet.pl/tad/africa.htm )] today. Answering therefore to John Sener's question it seems that "hard to change" is the whole of our Internet activity. Are all of us ready to maintain freely available to all Internauts repositories of student-generated content?

Thank you for your comment, Tadeusz. I agree that student discussions in Web forums have potential as student-generated content. They are an improvement over classroom discussions in that they are archivable and viewable by all students, and thus less ephemeral. As the article notes, I'd like to see more instances of SGC being used for purposes beyond completion of course assignments. I'm concerned that most SGC resulting from student discussions in Web forums are used just for assignment completion. Your suggestion to make this content more widely available might require more than simply making the content freely available. It might also require providing some sort of scaffolding, e.g., instructions for how to use the SGC for future learning activities. In the calculus example mentioned in the article, I was actually the one who encouraged the math professor to start the practice and helped him set it up. At the time, student problems were saved and made available as models for other students to use in subsequent semesters. I don't think he does this anymore, but this is another example of how student-generated work products could be put to use. Making student discussions in Web forums more widely available also raises the issue of student ownership of content. Students also have to be willing, and grant permission to allow their content to be freely used. This is a point I did not discuss in the article, but it's another consideration. John

MORE ON THE MEANING OF STUDENT-GENERATED CONTENT Hi, John, I'd like to thank you for your reply to my comment. The above words of yours have incited me to the following reflections. Forty years ago also I was a student. Who of us being a student wasn't interested in the exam results of the others? We asked at the academic corridors both about professors' questions and about students' answers. Do those students' answers joined with professors' questions and grades gotten by students for their answers improve learning effectiveness? Should they therefore be seen only by two people: the student and the professor? The exam results are the final results but discussions in Web forums generate provisional results. It seems that in spite of this one difference there are many similarities. Most important of all, discussions in Web forums carried on by students and professors in one year can be continued by other students (learning from the mistakes of their predecessors) and (the same) professors in the next years. Let me now repeat the question which I've already asked the students of The Open University ( http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=389 ) and which I'll ask the students of The European Career College (Digital libraries and copyright -- http://www.geocities.com/eklezjastka/ester2-13.html ) when they'll decide to study the e-subject Europe's Information Society (Europejskie społeczeństwo informacyjne -- http://www.kde.edu.pl/page.php/1/0/show/662/ ). Do students really "have to be willing, and grant permission to allow their content to be freely used"? Do we, academics, have to be willing, and grant permission to allow our content which appeared in Web discussions with students to be freely used? Should each opinion of ours formulated by us in online education be copyrighted? Tad

I guess I am a moderate on the issue of student generated content (SGC), as I am on most issues. I think making too much SGC available translates into clutter, and confidentiality issues brought up by Tadeusz become a legit concern. But SGC's main value is in those courses where we touch on the issues that are so up-to date (or offered for advanced learners) that students ARE the experts and their work can advance the field. I will not hide that Rhonda Urban's paper published in the previous issue of E-Mentor is an example of SGC from one of my courses online (and an interesting, valuable article on its own right). It would have been a bit of an under-achievement for me as the teacher to give Rhonda the grade for this work she deserves and then delete the paper. Melissa Winkel's book review published by the APA-Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers http://www.apaonline.org/publications/newsletters/Vol07n1/Computers/index.asp this Fall is another SGC from another of my courses. Both are actually culminations of small-team student projects, carried by one student-leader to the next level. I had two other students present their course papers to professional societies over the years, and not even in student-sections; some SGC is just that good and the job of the instructor is to notice it and polish the jewel in the raw it contains. The other aspect of SGC, closer to that discussed in John's article, is SGC re-used in other courses. There I get student ok. to list their work in various roles in my online courses, from example papers to adding student based parts of the lecture (yes, sometimes SGC is better than what I would have put toghether, my role is to recongnize this work). Now it is my little tradition to have a special course document devoted to SGC, with fragments, sometimes as short as one sentence, featuring the best, most helpful points made by various students over the years. This Summer I also had a student paper from a previous course (one of those presented at conferences, in fact at NA-CAP 2006) listed as one of the papers on which the class could write their term papers. It workd well, and those unexpected paper topics help avoid problems with plagiarism;) Presently, in part encouraged by John's paper, I have a whole section of my online course in Moral Theory where students look for articles on certain aspects of 'ontology of the web' and theysum them up for to class. Some of the students are programmers and other professionals, or just avid gamers, better qualified in certain aspects of this issue than I am; also, as a group we can cover much more ground, which helps in an uncharted territory. I look forward to reporting back the results of this experiment. Pete

Hi Tad, I don't think there's a single answer to this question. Institutional policies are likely to vary greatly on this issue; likewise, any applicable laws would vary from country to country. My guess is that this issue is routinely ignored in practice. So I raised the question because an increased use of SGC would also increase the likelihood that this would become an issue. For example, graduate students in doctoral programs who contribute substantive work resulting in a published paper in a peer-reviewed journal receive co-authorship recognition and credit toward completion of doctoral requirements. However, there are also occasional cases where faculty take credit for student work. I suspect that none of us would want a world where "each opinion of ours formulated by us in online education [is] copyrighted". But as students create more products of value, students are more likely to want to retain some of the IP rights to that value.

On Moderation in SGC You make some good points, Pete. SGC is susceptible to creating clutter just like any content, and probably more so since faculty might be less inclined or skilled to perform the vetting process which publishers currently do for them. And using SGC where students are the experts is a good (and relatively comfortable) place to start. It sounds as though your experiment involves having students research and present content you would normally present -- is that correct? I look forward to hearing the results of your experiment. At the same time, I think that there are plenty of instances where SGC can be useful even when students are not experts. One particular example which I need to research more is the application of SGC in problem-based case learning (PBCL). Some PBCL techniques apparently utilize SGC even when students are not content experts. Students bring other types of expertise (process, critical thinking, etc.), but I need to learn more about it before I can speak more definitively. Another example is the Real-Time Case Method, where students are able to learn enough to contribute substantively to a real organization.

FROM FRESHMAN-GENERATED CONTENT TO DOCTOR-GENERATED CONTENT Hi, Pete, I agree with you today just like I agreed with you three years ago -- online education suits persons who are doing the third university degree better than persons who are doing the first university degree ( http://www.e-mentor.edu.pl/komentarze.php?numer=1&id=8#23 ). However, more VALUABLE SGC won't appear at the third level of study if already at the first level of study doesn't appear SATISFACTORY SGC. The students not only write increasingly interesting papers but also display increasingly great skill in conversation with readers of their papers. I hope that Rhonda Urban won't be an exception ( http://www.e-mentor.edu.pl/komentarze.php?numer=20&id=446#383 ). ;-) By the way, would APA-Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers ( http://www.apaonline.org/publications/newsletters/Vol07n1/Computers/index.asp ) be more educational if the readers of papers collected there could discuss about them with their authors? What do you therefore mean writing "I warmly encourage discussion of all papers published in this Newsletter and particularly of the featured articles (currently, Harman’s and Floridi’s)" ( http://www.apaonline.org/publications/newsletters/Vol07n1/Computers/01.asp )? Is it the same as expressed by James L. Morrison "Please use the discussion board within each article to raise questions or provide additional commentary. Your comments will be sent to authors for their response, which will become part of the record for their article" ( http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=issue )? Tad

Tad, we all are best motivated when the author of the paper discussed is in the classroom. I've learned this at the Rockefeller Seminar on Human Values at Princeton (one of the most advanced seminars in politicla theory in the world, where the autor has to in the room to discuss his/her paper) and this also applies to all sorts of online offerings. I tend to include students as authors and most term-papers assigned in my online courses are posted in the course platform, for all students to comment on before I grade them. It tends to motivate students to write well and serves as a learning experience to all.

CIRCULATING AT THAT CLASSROOM Hi, Pete, regarding "the classroom" just mentioned by you let me add the following thought: "Moving from the one-room schoolhouse to the one-world schoolhouse is now a reality." Cisco Systems By the way, I've already used this thought as a signature written at the end of a message sent on OpenCourseWare Consortium Forum ( http://www.ocwconsortium.org/ocwcforum/viewtopic.php?t=118 ). :-)

Hi, Pete, I agree with you today just like I agreed with you three years ago -- online education suits persons who are doing the third university degree better than persons who are doing the first university degree Essay Writing

Thanks for that link. I've just used it in the discussion "Addressing the problem of faculty resistance to using IT tools in active learning instructional strategies" ( http://www.tinyurl.pl?Q79tB4R2 ).

Gość e-mentora (2008-12-19 08:24:19), Gośzlenxe, and reena, what do you think about discussing this important problem also there ( http://innovate-ideagora.ning.com/forum/topics/addressing-the-problem-of?page=6&commentId=2216838%3AComment%3A4981&x=1#2216838Comment4981 )?

Hi, reena, begin with http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html .

Nice!

I've learned this at the Rockefeller Seminar on Human Values at Princeton (one of the most advanced seminars in politicla theory in the world, where the autor has to in the room to discuss his/her paper) and this also applies to all sorts of online offerings. I tend to include students as authors and most term-papers assigned in my online courses are posted in the course platform http://www.bolcasohbet.net

I think it's difficult to find the right student generated content that is reliably written by the student who is taking the class. There are many ways students can take short cuts and breeze through classes without getting the needed knowledge that will help them in the future. This also applies to high school as well as those who don't learn anything by taking the GED. You can learn a lot by applying yourself and being aggressive in your education, even the GED test can give you insight and understand you wouldn't get from your friends. http://www.getged.org

Tad, we all are best motivated when the author of the paper discussed is in the classroom. I've learned this at the Rockefeller Seminar on Human Values at Princeton (one of the most advanced seminars in politicla theory in the world, where the autor has to in the room to discuss his/her paper) and this also applies to all sorts of online offerings. I tend to include students as authors and most term-papers assigned in my online courses are posted in the course platform, for all students to comment on before I grade them. It tends to motivate students to write well and serves as a learning experience to all. WarhammerOnline chosen

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Data wydania: 8 października 2007 r.
wersja online: ISSN 1731-7428
wersja drukowana: ISSN 1731-6758

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