As I explained in yesterday's blog post
, my online course starts officially on January 14, but the early bird students are already getting a head start. Meanwhile, I am busy decorating my virtual classroom walls! College classroom walls are notoriously bare because they are transient places, usually without any kind of soul. I love the way high school and elementary school classrooms are often plastered from floor to ceiling with stimulating decorations (when I taught high school, I covered a wall with pictures from National Geographic magazine - it was the story wall, and students used the images as prompts for storytelling). Well in my college classroom online, I can achieve the same effect, covering the virtual walls of my classroom with all kinds of cool stuff. I do this by taking full advantage of the "widgets" option in Desire2Learn (about the only thing I am really enthusiastic about in Desire2Learn). Click on this image for a full-size view of my D2L homepage in Indian Epics:
The idea is that when students "arrive" for class (and most of them log on to the Desire2Learn website at least once every day), they are greeted with new stuff - either things that display at random, or things that are displayed for that particular day of the calendar. It's all DYNAMIC and AUTOMATIC - once I get it set up, I don't do a thing to alter the content - new stuff is there all the time, but I am off busy doing other teacherly things, not messing with the D2L homepage in any way. Once I am done decorating (I think I am done, as of today!), I don't have to do a thing for the rest of the semester.
Here's a quick listing of the materials in the three columns, and the tools I used to create them:
Custom made for the start and end dates of the current semester, created with Rotating Content: Progress Meter tool
Holidays, both religious and secular, observed around the world on today's date. You can get this script at SchoolhouseWidgets.com
South Asian Calendar:
Important events, personalities and places in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.) - helping students make the connection between ancient India, which we are studying in this class, and India today. You can get this script at SchoolhouseWidgets.com
New Delhi Clock:
See what time it is in New Delhi, India. You can create your own custom clocks, highly configurable, at TimeandDate.com
A calendar of events in the history of technology, day by day. You can get this script at SchoolhouseWidgets.com
Free online tools, displayed at random, to introduce students to the wonderful world of web2.0. You can get this script at SchoolhouseWidgets.com
This displays the upcoming deadlines for class assignments, day by day. Since all the due dates are established at the beginning of the semester, I build the script and just let it run (script built as date-based content at RotateContent.com
This is a custom list of study tips, displayed at random, to help my students succeed in this class. You can create your own random study tips list using the great tool at RotateContent.com
I post the announcement in my blog, and then use Feed2JS.org
to automatically re-display the announcements at the course website, with one week's worth of announcements available here in Desire2Learn.
Random Bumper Sticker:
I love InternetBumperStickers.com
. I used the RotateContent.com tool
to build a random selection of 100 of my favorite bumper stickers. There's a link to the IBS site so that my students will hopefully be inspired to put bumper stickers in their blogs and websites for class.
This is a random widget of Hindu gods and goddesses, built especially for this class. Interested? You can get this script at SchoolhouseWidgets.com
This is a school-wide widget which any instructor can add to their course, built by the FABULOUS guys at our library. So far, the library is the only institution on campus which has taken advantage of the great widget functionality of Desire2Learn. Librarians rock!