Why create a customizable web site for each student in an honors thesis-writing course? I and colleague Colleen Manchester are using Google docs and charts to track her students' progress on their honors theses and on the Genius Points they've earned along the way. We're using gamification (Genius Points) as an incentive for students to complete steps in the thesis-writing process on time.
My institution uses Google Apps for email, G+ social networking, and Moodle for CMS; making them work together has been worth the effort. Moodle users know what a swamp of administrative detail it demands while being seductively powerful at the same time. Google has sooooooo many great tools that it's a waste to focus only on Moodle when Google is right there.
Creating individual sites for students gives us a way to embed Google docs and charts in iframes on student pages and then publish an aggregate of everyone's scores in an iframe on the class's Moodle course site (students compete to be among the top five Genius-Point earners) .
The Moodle site and Google template were ready to go, so I created all 18 Google sites and asked Colleen to test them to death. She obliged. The site design was fine. Navigation--no problems. Just a few notes:
- The Moodle site is still a developmental site. Needs to be an academic site. Right. That's 18 links to change.
- A formula in the project tracking spreadsheet is wrong: Right. That's 180 spreadsheet cells to update.
- Can students share pages with their thesis supervisors? Sure. That's 18 sharing settings to change.
You get the idea.
I'm not complaining. I'm saying the first time you do any ed tech project, keep notes about the dozens of things you didn't (couldn't possibly) think of the first time. The notes will help make the extra hours of work worth the cost and contribute to an impressive planning document the next time around.