The Class Site

The OSS Class Site provides an organized space for class materials and access to individual student sites, functioning as an information portal for the course syllabus, recent posts, social media, announcements, discussion, and other aggregated data and information.

By: Randall Packer |

Course materials

The class site is where students gather to access the course materials and assignments, including: syllabus, projects, and other relevant information according to the needs of the instructor. These items are selected from the main menu of the site (see figure below).

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Gateway to student sites

The class site is a dashboard that includes student avatars, which link to information about each student, as well as their individual sites. Students provide information about themselves in their WordPress user settings (see Setting up the Student Site). Each student’s name appears when you mouse over the avatar (see figure below).

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The student’s name, biography, and link to their Website appears when you click on the avatar (see figure below).

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Flickr Feed

Contributions to social media feeds, such as the OSS Flickr Feed, shifts the emphasis away from the solitary nature of individualized studio work, to one that involves a collective integration of ideas and imagery in the artistic process. The Flickr Feed displays the most recent images that have been uploaded and tagged to the class’s Flickr group (see figure below).

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Tag Cloud

During the course of a semester, students tag their posts with various keywords, which emerge as concepts of importance when displayed as a tag cloud. Since all of the students are posting within an integrated network of sites, the tag cloud is “global,” meaning it represents the keywords of all the students in the class. As a result, the tag cloud becomes a snapshot of the collective work of the students, tracking the artistic process of all the students (see figure below). This is crucial for understanding trending ideas within a class, with the ability to access all posts in a single feed that have been tagged with the same word.

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Recent Posts

All student posts are aggregated and display chronologically (descending order) in the “recent posts” area of the class site. This allows both the instructor and the students to track posts as as they are created. Each post includes the featured image, author’s name and avatar, excerpted text, and comments.

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Twitter Feed

Twitter is incorporated into the course so that students learn to integrate micro-blogging with their academic work, and to form an analytical and critical relationship to social media tools. Recent Twitter posts of a designated class hashtag are displayed on the site, becoming an avenue for sharing, creative wordplay, and dialogue (see figure below).

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At the start of the semester, each faculty member is given a class site with student accounts. The class site is essentially an empty shell with the above functionality. At the end of the semester, the class site is archived via the Web. Unlike proprietary systems such as Blackboard, online work can be accessed for years to come as an important resource.