Marisa Bortolussi, professor from the Comparative Literature
at University of Alberta, spoke of her experience with learning
"It is indeed very rewarding to see students benefited
from the technology I use in the course" said Marisa.
She used computer conferencing for the peer evaluation exercise
in a graduate seminar course. She sets high expectations and
sees herself as a guide and a facilitator for her students.
Six students in this course were engaged in a research project
and they all worked together to accomplish a goal - advance
the theories on Magical Realism and produce publishable papers.
Online conferencing supported communication among the students,
and therefore, fostered a positive team spirit.
The overall research process was broken down into some discrete
tasks. First, each students must propose a topic, write a
research proposal and post it in the online conference. Each
proposal was reviewed by two students, who provided constructive
criticism and feedback. The student reviewers and authors
used the conferencing features to discuss their ideas and
exchange documents. Marisa guided her students throughout
the course, stressing not only the product - the final research
report, but also the process - how to collaborate on a project.
The role-play element of this exercises prepared students
for the real-life research and publication tasks.
It was certainly a very different learning experience for
the students. Some were not comfortable giving and receiving
criticism; some were not used to teamwork. However, they did
see the benefits of this peer review exercise and appreciated
the convenience and empowerment a conferencing tool has to
offer. Students all thought that the conferencing facilitated
their communication and helped build a positive research community
in this course.
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