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Help Me Spring Clean for the New Semester

spring cleaning imageHere we are, again, ready to start a new semester. The term I think is most difficult to start–the spring term. So, that’s why I’m asking for your help.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy starting off a new year. I start looking forward to going back to work. And, I am convinced that my kids are actually looking forward to going back to school and getting out of the house, too. New year. New resolutions. New students.

But, part of me struggles with the spring term. Each fall, I have the entire summer to think about and plan my term. When the first day and all the excitement come, I eagerly dive in to the new materials I’ve planned. Then, as the term goes along, I make notes about projects I want to change, tasks I want to add, maybe even entire reworks I want to make. But, then I take winter break. I eat. I sleep. I eat. I catch up on the 94% of the DVR that’s waiting for me. I eat some more. I visit with family and friends. And, suddenly I realize the term is about to start again.

Here comes the difficult part. I want to make changes, but I worry about where to start. Small changes? The overhauls? What might my students like doing? What did I find painful last term? Suddenly, the term is in front of me, and while I know I want to freshen up my courses and knock down those old assignment cobwebs, sometimes I just curl up in front of the t.v. with a cup of tea instead.

So, I need your help. What fresh additions are you adding to your writing courses this year? What new tools will you be using for your online courses? What technical writing assignments are you testing out this term? I’d really enjoy hearing about the great assignments you find tried-and-true and maybe those new ones you’re thinking about experimenting with.

I’m happy to share with you a few of mine that I’ve used in the past. This year, I’m considering using a theme for my technical writing course (zombies, maybe). Last term I tried online presentations through a WebEx-style tool. I’ve used VoiceThread before, and my students really enjoyed it. I tested Wimba classrooms and BlackBoard Collaborate last term. Both seemed to offer some benefits. And, I’m happy to share any other ideas about assignments I use. Here is a link to a sample online wiki I use…you’re welcome to anything on it: Sample Course Wiki

I’m sure all of you are off to great starts, so let’s share in the work of spring cleaning and refreshing together!

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