Hi everyone :)
We have work arounds for practically everything our VLE (Blackboard) offers. We use Padlet which can be used as a file repository, a message board, a wiki, Gmail is better for mailing lists, etc. I think BB is a little too clunky to use for in class activities, but one thing I would like to try is to use it as a place to share journal articles related to our students’ courseworks. They could submit the article to me, with a brief explanation of how they plan to use the article to help them answer the question. This would ensure there was no freeloading (perhaps I could limit student access to it until they had proposed a reasonable submission). Additionally, we could make sure they were still practising their Starplus/research skills by just giving the reference rather than the article pdf. The wiki could help the students develop a learning community (even though it could fall foul of collusion guidelines, but there would be nothing to stop them sharing research via other means and I personally would view that as a positive- sharing articles isn’t plagiarism!) So, if I could do this, I think it would help to combat a common problem that students pick irrelevant articles for their questions and can head off down unproductive paths. You only really need a couple of good, on topic and accessible articles to set you well on the way to success in the courseworks we do (for non-Sheffield participants, students on foundation and premasters years do three courseworks, a reading (research), a speaking (presentation of findings) and a writing (extended essay) all on the same question.) So it’s really good if they can get off to a good start with some relevant articles, especially as they can be hard to find. A place to share (and read!) such articles (checked by me) would really help with that and might encourage wider reading and prevent the citations being taken solely from abstracts!
I liked the idea of a vocab repository suggested earlier, but wouldn’t a dedicated app like Quizlet be a better platform for that? Is it possible to add students to classes on the free version? I’m not sure, as I have just realised that my app version is a different account from the desktop version. I know I’ve only got one idea, so I’m looking forward to seeing other’s suggestions. Hope that’s ok!