Why is this course designed this way?

There are any number of ways (perhaps an infinite number!) to design a course such as this one.

In this course, we have embraced an “open” approach to education — an approach that removes barriers to access, making as much of the course open and available to all whenever possible. We’ve also embraced an idea that every course should be different — no “cookie cutter” courses! A portfolio course should look different than a science course or an English course.

In our efforts to be open, we’ve chosen to go with the most widely-used web-authoring (and blogging) platform in the world—WordPress. It’s easily customizable and can (with some work) be repurposed from a blog to be a course management site. In doing so, we often have to mimic basic CMS functions with plugins, use of 3rd party sites, and sometimes our programming (in PHP). What this means for you is you will be using many different sites that together do what closed sites like D2L can do out of the box. Let’s walk through them, and we’ll explain why we’re using each:

  • Gravatar – We need a way for you to share with us (and the world) where your work is.
  • Flipgrid – Flipgrid is a way for us to interact and share through asynchronous video conversations. We use the site to post thoughts about our work and provide feedback to each other.
  • Qualtrics – We use this survey service for the beginning survey. It’s a secure way for us get data from you. No login or password needed (whew!).
  • Zoom – This runs our online office hours (also known as the Capstone Coffeehouse) and our end-of-semester exhibitions. We would need something like this even with D2L.
  • D2L -We use D2L to securely handle grades. We could actually do this in WordPress via the use of a plugin, but it would violate university policy about storing certain types of data on 3rd party sites. So, we do ask you to use D2L with us for grading purposes (with your university login and password).

The good news is that you’ll be using a site that is open—you’re joining the open education movement, seeing several examples of “repurposing” technology, and hopefully learning how to use technology flexibly in your own educational settings.

You should be seeing a site that isn’t like other courses you’ve seen before (in a good way, we hope). Moreover, you’re getting a site with what we think is a thoughtful combination of the best technologies for different purposes. We welcome your questions and comments and hope you enjoy this approach.

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