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Academic Technologies
 

Collaboration Tools

Collaboration tools let faculty and students exchange data, namely text and images. But these social tools can also be highly interactive and effective when they are aligned with instructional goals and projects. While a project can involve just one person, the solo blogger for example, typically collaborative projects involve small groups or even the entire class. Here are the tools we most commonly use:

Blogs and Wikis
Discussion Forums and Mailing Lists 


Blogs (WordPress)

Skidmore Blogs login: http://academics.skidmore.edu

Blogs are websites that allow users, known as bloggers, to publish text and upload documents, images, and video. One of the reasons bloggers are attracted to this technology is they can easily create posts and make comments on each other's posts and pages. Blogs are considered a collaborative technology. Skidmore Blogs is a multisite self-hosted instance that runs on WordPress open source software. Skidmore blogs can be public, private, or available to the Skidmore community only. WordPress has many exciting features including themes and plugins that let users control and customize the look and appearance of their site. The Skidmore Blogs homepage has many examples of public viewable sites in the right column under the Contributors. To learn more about classroom applications, please reference the ELI handout: The 7 things you should know about blogs.

Faculty, staff and students are using blogs to accomplish many different goals from collaborative digital storytelling projects to eportfolio reflective journalling. Blogs sites are highly customizable, ideal for writing and posting multimedia, and allow the author to be at the center of a defined audience that can offer feedback and mentoring. While blogs are often personal, they can also be made up of multiple authors to encourage communication and collaboration. Typically, faculty request course blogs for their students before the start of the semester so there is adequate time for planning and set up. The ease of web publishing with Skidmore Blogs seems to offer something for everyone!

Sample ideas for academic blogs:


Wikis (Mediawiki)

What is a wiki?
A wiki is a website consisting of many pages that are generated by users who have permissions to create and edit content. Wikis are content authoring and community-building tools where it can be useful to keep track of any changes users make to pages. Wikis are especially suited to online resource development and semester-long class projects. One of the most popular wiki examples is Wikipedia. While many wikis are accessible to the public, most allow publishing and editing by members only. At Skidmore we use Mediawiki, the same wiki used to power Wikipedia. 

How are people using wikis?
Please visit the Skidmore Blogs wiki page for a list of wikis at Skidmore College. Faculty are using wikis to monitor on-going projects that go well beyond the school year. The North Woods wiki, started back in 2005, began as a class project and has grown to be an online resource with many contributors. An important takeaway about wikis is they are learning objects and as such can live on and be repurposed long after the semester is over. Faculty are drawn to wikis because it is very easy for students to work in groups, either face-to-face in class, or asynchronously. Typically, a wiki project begins at the very beginning of the semester. Once the wiki structure is defined, the faculty member will assign different parts of the wiki to groups of students. By the end of the semester, the wiki becomes an impressive compendium of multiple parts that represents the culmination of a semester-long class project.


Discussion Forums

A discussion forum is an online communication site where members of the Skidmore community can interact with each other around diverse discussion topics. Discussion forums include a range of topics: Academic Course Discussions, General Discussion, Career Services, For Sale, Housing,and Ride Share. Forums can be made private or public. The discussion forums can be found at http://www.skidmore.edu/forums. To request a discussion forum, please submit a Help Desk ticket.


Mailing Lists

We offer both Classic and Majordomo mailing lists. Classic lists are easy to maintain via a web page. The downside is these lists are not secure. If a spammer finds the address of a list, they can potentially SPAM everyone on the list. Majordomo lists can have security settings applied so that only the owner of the list can send to it or so that only the members of the list can send to it. Click here for more information on the different types of lists, how to create them, and how to edit mailing lists you own. 

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