Learning Objects Campus Pack at the moment. This time it's a simple enough requirement to do with academic supervision. Records of supervisory encounters, when they are kept, are often trapped in an individual's filing cabinet or inbox. Neither of these places are especially good in terms of organisational contingency... What if staff members become unavailable for an extended period of time? The tutor who has to pick up from there is flying blind as far as previous correspondence. But this can also be true where the roles of personal tutor/mentor and academic supervisor are split. There should be a way of bringing these records into one place for the relevant parties to access. Over time, it is hoped that students and staff will benefit from being able to take the long view of their academic supervision. There may also be something about 'locus of control' with these records, so that greater student engagement is procured as these records are now in their hands as much as they are the provenance of their tutors.
Originally this requirement arose out of an overseas programme we're running where staff in both countries needed to be on 'the same page' in terms of supervision, but it was successful and made sense to try it on our other programmes.
The recipe is simple enough:
1. Set up a VLE module which pulls in all students on a programme automatically
2. Set up the module with just the bare essentials: a userguide, a link to a central forum for queries.
3. Within the module, create an 'Batch Assignment Blog' This makes the whole thing scalable. You do not have to create an individual blog for each student and lock each one down individually.
4. Enrol only the staff that need to do supervision. Offer as much support as necessary (but really this whole thing is very simple).
5. Create groups of students on a per-cohort basis to allow access rules to limit visibility of a cohort's Assignment between the cohorts.
I came up with the 'D@SH' brand because blogs have about as much popularity as wikipedia amongst academic staff and so we needed to make the distinction. It also reinforces that this is for academic supervision, not personal tutor-type correspondence which can often be of a highly sensitive nature.
Of course, being essentially a 'blog' (ssshhhh!!!), it benefits from the commenting, subscription alerts, exporting and tagging features, as well as coping with whatever new fangled media people may want to share nowadays. If you just want to post draft essays, I'm sure that will be fine too. But there's no getting away from the fact that this is another plank in the move towards embedding digital/new fluencies/literacies into the curriculum for students and staff ;)