The winter term is just done and the students' feedback is in: collaboration is good, but the approach we used was too complicated. At the moment, it seems that educational collaboration, and some corporate collaboration, takes a hodgepodge approach that makes it hard to scale. Scale in this case means tools and practices. In parts two and three, I'll speak to people (and so cover my triumvirate of people, technology tools, and organizational practice - the dimensions of systems savvy). This term we used:

  • Angel for quizzes, the grade book, and password protected file storage
  • Piazzza for threaded discussion of focus questions and comments
  • A wiki for the class schedule and links to readings and resources
  • A website for the syllabus with its overview and grading scheme

The collaboration was there. The transparency was there. But the students found it hard to find the info they needed. I may have to create Terri's Law: let no collaboration take more than two resources. If I were in a corporate setting and could pay for licenses or custom tools, I might say one. Next term we will beta test Acceledge's class management system. Acceledge was co-founded by one of last term's students, though before her run in with my class. We will continue to use Piazzza as it remains the best tool I've seen for discussions. Piazzza is another local start-up, begun while the founder was completing her MBA at Stanford. Clearly the students know what they need and that the right tools haven't been available. What do you think about Terri's law? Is two the right number or do I need to leave room for people, tech, and practice variations that may allow for more complexity?