I have been playing with the idea of using open platforms and social media channels as alternative course platforms. Of course there are limitations and challenges. But let’s start with the opportunities first. These new channels provide us backup platforms. During the mid-semester, our Moodle course paltform was going under maintenance and due to a serious bug, the system was down for couple days. Imagine the same situation in a real (physical) classroom. You would try to find any other available classroom. However this would be hard, since it is almost half way through the semester and all the other rooms in the campus are already reserved. That had been a major problem here in our on-campus classes when the rooms were flooded during the drastic Ames Flood happened this past summer. Of course on-line classrooms weren’t really affected by this. However, in our scenario, this time the online classroom went down and was not reachable neither by the students nor the teachers. We had to act quick, and it was major week with full of online activities. Facebook group as a course socializing platform came in handy. We moved to Facebook and kept our conversations in the platform, addressed issues and student questions, and updated them about how and when Moodle was going to work.
Social media channels play an important role when things happen in conventional classroom tools such as Course Management Platform or campus e-mail system. Educators need to think about alternative ways to connect to the students, instead of just relying one one medium. Things happen, things can go wrong. I actually celebrate this. Because that is when we can be creative and invent solutions. I learn the most when I troubleshoot.