C. Web Platforms

Introduction and Resources

The University of Minnesota supports MyU as a portal platform.   Once you’ve pointed your browser to MyU and logged on, you’ll notice in the top right corner both the Search and Help icons.  Juse to the left of the Help? icon you’ll see a folder image followed by the wording “MyU Space” – this is where you can build a portal page.  For the GRAD8101 / Teaching and Learning in Higher Education course, I have created a portal page for hosting course materials.  You also know the Portal via what’s made available to you via the Graduate Student Portal.

You can learn a bit more about MyU Space via the general tutorial – MyU Space information begins with the 12th slide you’ll see in the Presenter tabs, and continue forward.  As the portal capacities are being updated, you’ll also find information here.  Best of all, you can consider how the RiverLife program here at the U has made great use of the MyU Portal capacities.

A cautionary note here – web platforms such as portals and websites and wikis take a bit more technical savvy for starting up than do the course management systems or blogging platforms set out in the first two Technology Sandbox quadrants.  Some starting points:

  • MyU Space – see the notes and links that open this section.
  • Wikis – from Educause, 7 Things You Should Know about Wikis and about Ning (PBworks is another well-reviewed wiki platform).
  • WebSites – building your own: DreamWeaver and Wix; the second of these is designed for people who know little or nothing about HTML coding, and so it’s the one I’ll include here.  If you know website building, you’ll know where to explore to think about using a particular software for your teaching and learning concerns.

Your Task

For this task, pick one platform to learn a bit about if it’s new to you, to learn a bit more about if you’ve experienced navigating or developing a web side as a student and now wonder about it as a teacher, or one you want to learn a bit more about because you’ve worked other software and want to compare that to other possibilities – knowing, perhaps, that you might need to try something different with a new teaching post.

Post Your 3-5 Ideas

In all, spend about 15 minutes getting a general sense of the web platform you have chosen to investigate, 30 minutes digging deeper to learn its features for learners and teachers, and another 15 minutes sharing 3-5 ideas as a reply to this post.

Questions to guide you as you’re doing the digging in – and that could launch the 3-5 ideas you share:

  • As you explore, think as a teacher and as a learner, as much as possible:
    • What does this tool do, in general?
    • What are a couple of its strengths?
    • What are some of its weaknesses?
    • What are some red flags about use (privacy, support, logins)?
    • What other interesting ideas / questions cross your mind while exploring?




  1. I think it’d be really cool to use a Wiki as a central component of a course.
    1. I could have one Wiki entry be the course home page. The home page could essentially be the course syllabus, and course materials would be linked to within the syllabus structure. Each student could probably also have their own home page, so they can link to things within the overall Wiki to build their own customized page.
    2. I could let students construct the Wiki as the class progresses. They would get to have access to the Wiki during quizzes and tests (analogous to commonly-used “cheat-sheets” in engineering courses), which should encourage them to put a good effort into it to produce a quality Wiki. Except, wouldn’t I end up with some (or a lot of!) free-riders? How would I handle/discourage that?
    3. I could periodically “grade” individual student’s home pages within the Wiki as a form of collecting homework. I could post answer keys for assignments and exams as posts within the Wiki and linked to on the syllabus-style home page.
    4. Also, wouldn’t it be fun if I gave them the opportunity to write an exam for me based on the content in the Wiki? They could get bonus points on their own exams for tripping me up.
    5. It’d also be fun to get them to compare their Wiki to archived Wikis from previous classes at some point. I don’t yet know how I would design this assignment and incentivize the students though.
    6. I need a Wiki that is easy for me to set up and use. It would preferably allow me to archive Wikis from previous classes. And it needs to provide the ability to have user accounts. I don’t want people outside of the course editing our Wiki. And I need to be able to have a mild amount of control. For instance, I probably wouldn’t want students to be able to edit each other’s home pages, but I do want them to be able to link to each other’s home pages.

  2. Wiki – it is a collaborative tool that enables any registered wiki user or reader make contributions to the its content. Individuals can contribution to the existing discussions or create a new page for specific needs of a group or a class for collaboration purposes.

    For teaching and learning purposes, wiki could be used as a course web page where course materials (reading) are stored for easy access. it could also be used as a discussion forum where participating members or group make contributions to the issues being discussed. Using the preference tool, groups could be created and access restricted to a particular group. In other words, Wiki page or discussion could not be opened to the public but only to those whose Wiki ID were permitted to access the page or group discussion(s).

    On the other hand, Wiki has some weak sides. Because it is mostly opened to the public, there is no control with respect to the contents of the page. Put differently, there is no accountability. Different individuals can make contribution to a single discussion, thereby making it practically impossible for a single individual to be held accountable. Participating individuals can add or delete content at will. When compared with other course we resources like Moodle, Wiki has less to offer in terms of instructional technology tools like live chat, video clips, podcast etc that add varieties to teaching and learning. There is no control over the protection of privacy. People with bad intention can anonymously use the forum in posting contents that infringe privacy of their victims.

    I have been using Moodle and that is why I am probably biased about what Wiki can offer. Moodle has lots of management tools that can sustain interest of users/learners; thus, creating exiting experiences in a virtual classroom. However, it may not be opened to the public as Wiki.

    • I learned a bit about MYU … after watching the myU portal orientation, I see that this might be useful. It is widely available and easy to access. This surprised me. MyU can be customized and content easily added. It has a group function. Strengths are that it is widely available, offers privacy controls, and is not at all flashy. Also, it is already used by students as they interface with the UMN web site. There are weaknesses too… “not at all flashy” could be a strength or a weakness, right? Also, the 1Help technology people are available to troublshoot help if a user is stuck. Even after watching the orientation, I am confused about the purpose… is it designed to be instructional technology? I am not sure why anyone would choose this over Moodle.

  3. Web platforms have the advantages of being collaborative, open, and useful for course management. However, the degree of openness and usefulness for course management can vary depending on the platform. For instance, Wikis tend to be more open than formal course management tools like Moodle, although Moodle has more interactive tools for comprehensive course management. The degree of openness can also become a problem, so instructors using these types of tools should think about how they want to balance access with control and accountability. Privacy can also be an issue, because users with bad intentions can post material that infringe on the privacy of others.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.