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Developing a Social-Networked Mini Unit

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I teach a Boise State University EdTech graduate course in Social Networking Learning.  I wrote about this course in Educators as Social Networked Learners.

I decided to write a separate post about their final assignment, creating a Social-Networked Mini-Curricular Unit.  The assignment description, some of the group units produced, the peer assessment, and some student reflections about the project follow:

Assignment Description

For your final project (the final module is peer reviews of this assignment), you’ll be formulating, outlining, proposing your very own social networked mini-curricular unit. Creating your own mini-curricular unit for your final project will provide you with the opportunity to synthesize and apply the social networking skills and strategies you learned throughout the course.

  • Course Description, Objectives, and Expectations
    • Course description
    • Learning outcomes
    • Performance and participation expectations
    • Social Media Use Guidelines
    • You will need to have a central hub to share information – WordPress, Google Sites, Wiki, Edmodo. (This will also be the site where you address all of the requirements of this project.
  • Student and course content creation and sharing platforms (along with specific directions on set-up, purpose, and potential use for your course):
    • Sharing work and discussions: Edmodo, Facebook
    • Student work: blogs; wikis
    • Photo and video sharing: Youtube, Flickr
    • Synchronous meetings discussions: Google+, Webinar Platforms
    • Social Bookmarking: Diigo, Delicious
    • Information Sharing and Dissemination: Twitter
    • Curation: Learnist, Pinterest, Storify, Scoopit
    • Student Collaboration: Google Docs, Etherpad, Edmodo
    • Student interaction: Develop a process for students to interact with and collaborate with one another.
    • How you will have students form small study groups or cohorts for project creation, collaboration, and feedback
    • How you will rotate facilitation of weekly discussions
    • How the group will report their progress – e.g., weekly summary (see Storify)
    • Apart from the course social networking platforms, participants should be encouraged to generate content spaces of their own, allowing them to both increase their Personal Learning Environment, as well as share their experiences with both the other MOOC participants as well as their own Personal Learning Network ( This, obviously, needs to be discussed and presented to the students that is age-grade appropriate.
  • Assessment Plan: this is your plan for assessing student performance and work. (You do not have to develop assessments for specific learning activities nor course requirements – this is just your plan)
    • Statement about the assessment process (self and peer assessment, reflection)
    • Peer review should be a part of the process
    • Consider using badges for assessment (e.g.
  • How You Plan to Monitor Course Interactions, Make Announcements, and Summarize and Disseminate Student Contributions
    • Course Tags and Hashtags
    • You, the educator, need ways to collect all the information and RSS feeds that your students are producing. Netvibes works well for this or gRSShopper (developed by Stephen Downes, a MOOC guru) if you have a server and some basic sysadmin skills (or know somebody who does).
    • Your process of disseminating announcements and aggregated student contributions on a regular basis.
  • Sample Learning Activities
    • List at least three learning activities for your course – make sure they address your learning outcomes and include many, if not all, of your course’s established social networks.

Example Group Projects


Despite a passion for creative writing, many people refuse to identify themselves as writers. There are a number of misconceptions about writing including the idea that a true writer is one who is published by a publishing house. This course seeks to change that narrow view of writers. The writer is a person who finds joy or purpose in writing and endeavors to write often.

The hallmark of any writer is that they write and write often.  Students will write often and collaborate with other writers in class to develop a 15 -20 page story that will be published online at the end of the course. This course will use social media and other technologies to help writers create a useful archive of resources and create a network of similar-minded writers. Students will leave the course with a story they publish to an online website and skills to continue writing.

Of special note, Andrea, Alyssa, Darla, and Christina’s unit included the following:

  • Course Social Networking Technologies –
  • Example Assignments (posted on their class Edmodo page):
    1. One of the biggest challenges that all writers face, is how to begin. What will you write about? You will be using your researching skills to brainstorm different literary genres. You may use any search engine you see fit. Then, once you’ve identified different genres of literature, start thinking about what makes a story fit into that particular genre. For instance, what elements make a story a horror story?   To begin this activity, you will need to have your Diigo account set up and have joined the ELACADE. You will add 10 different bookmarks to Diigo, from your genre research. Once you have added your 10 resources for genre and characteristics of these genres onto Diigo, you will tweet them to our class hashtag #ELACADE.  Once you have completed posting your resources to Diigo and tweeting them to our group, you will need to read through the research that your classmates have posted. Remember, that you are trying to identify the genre that you would like to use for your short story and get some ideas for plot. Tweet at least 10 other students in the class about their research. (*Include elements you found interesting or new ideas for your own story that you thought about after reading their research.)  By the time you have finished this assignment, you should have a clear understanding of the genre of story you will be writing and what elements your short story should contain in order to fit into that genre.  Students that complete this portion will receive the Brainstorming Badge.
    2. After completing the Twitter brainstorming activities, you will create a visualization board using Pinterest to help brainstorm setting and characterization. Visualization often aids writers in articulating written details about characters and setting.  You should have set up a Pinterest account prior to beginning this activity. Review your brainstorming ideas and responses from your Twitter activity. Then, use Flickr or other internet resources to locate pictures to represent your setting and characterization ideas. “Pin” at least 25-30 images, websites, videos, or other media that helps you to visualize your storyline, characters and setting. Post a link to your Pin board in the Edmodo forum. Then, review and reply to the Visualization Pin boards of the members of your group.  Students who complete this assignment will earn the Lessons Badge.


Of special note, Jon and Fabio’s course included the following:




Peer Reviews of the Social Networked Curricular Units

Assignment Overview:  You are being asked to provide feedback for one of the other group’s units via an audio-visual screencast. There are a number of Web-based tools that can be used to do this.  Screencasts increase the social networking level of the teaching-learning process and helps to insure that the feedback is rich and that thorough critiques are provided.  Here are some example screencasts from the course:

Final Course Reflections

The final task for the course was a reflection on the course, what worked, what didn’t work, what was learned, what will be used in the future.  A few students discussed this assignment as being a significant component of the course.

From Christina:

I believe that my favorite (while frustrating) assignment was the final project. While I always hope for the most detailed outlines and instructions for assignments, the freedom to create a social media and networking course on our own was challenging and exciting. I have always enjoyed how the final projects in our EdTech courses serve as a means to solidify our learning. The project was able to help me see how the previous assignments from the semester could be integrated and applied in a meaningful application of social networking. Our project on Healthy Living integrates a variety of social networking components that I am always afraid to try with my students. But now that I have had the practice of applying these tools in a practice setting, I am more likely to attempt to use them with my “real-life” students.

From Fabio:

Now for the best part of this course and what I enjoyed the most – the MOOC.  I didn’t know that these existed.   I love this idea.  I’m a lifelong learner.  I learn to learn and I don’t care what it is as long as it interests me and stimulates my brain.  MOOCs are awesome and I can’t wait to delve more into this fascinating area and possible even conduct a few. We can create communities of student centered self guided learning in which a teacher may not even necessarily be needed in the traditional sense. In this model the entire group would teach and learn from each other. I’d really love to take part in the one that I designed and others that I saw my peers start and design. I may not make an entire course into a MOOC, but I definitely will add aspects of MOOCs into my courses.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

December 29, 2012 at 12:16 am

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