CN’s Impact on the World of Languages: “Literature-ally” Speaking

Part I: Functions, Approaches, and Reactions

Saint Xavier University of Illinois offers 43 undergraduate programs and 25 graduate programs offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Nursing and the Graham School of Management. Its location in the greater Chicago area goes back to its foundation in 1846 as the city’s oldest Catholic university and its humble beginnings as an institution established on educating women and the poor contributes to its mission of, “Educating men and women to search for truth, to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to serve wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good.”

So not only has Norman Boyer’s diverse background in the field of higher education led him to effectively add to SXU’s ambitions for its students and community, but his views on the social learning site’s functions combined with his versatile, innovative pedagogical practices with the help of Course Networking have also led his students to gain insight on using an LMS they’ve enjoyed for reasons that go far beyond a typical course evaluation scantron sheet.

Dr. Boyer has become a very active user of the network even though SXU currently supports Blackboard as their campus-wide LMS, but his World Literature to 1500 course on the CN compliments the functions students are already familiar with in ways that make learning easier and more engaging. He’s classified how the mechanics of CN have helped him in his course topics in two general categories shown in the Venn diagram below:

The ease and availability of these tools made implementing his course topics only clicks away. “The post tool is by far the most important for me,” Norm explained in his interview. “Not that it so much demonstrates course topics to my students but that it lets my students demonstrate their responses to course topics to me.” With this approach, he also began to realize how the social networking aspect began to take effect into his methods. “The social-networking format of posts in CN has truly opened the students' posts to each other by making it almost impossible for students not to read classmates' postings or to add a comment.  That has simply never happened before.” Norm continued to explain how he also used the post tool to have students introduce themselves before the class started to get an idea of where their background was regarding course topics.

As the course progressed, he also found how easy it was to add detailed instructions, photos, links, and videos to posts and task tools that students seemed to have no trouble finding. In fact, Dr. Boyer discovered that student feedback was “extremely positive,” and he seems to be noticing a trend in his evaluations of the academic social learning site with each new class. They seemed to enjoy the accessibility it has created for them and even though login information (username and passwords) were different than Blackboard, they didn’t seem to have a problem with keeping the two separate. 

“Although the appreciation is less vocal, I notice an appreciation for the tasks,” Dr. Boyer remarks. And it’s that appreciation we hope more educators can enjoy seeing more of as they begin to consider LMS’s in their classes, more specifically, CN.

In Part II of my interview with Dr. Boyer, we’ll take a look what other courses could begin benefiting from the network at SXU and how Norm sees for the future of CN as it helps shape higher education technology through its international capabilities.

Stay tuned!

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