In traditional (in-person) courses, it’s very common for students to talk outside the classroom about the concepts and issues that come up in the classroom. This often leads to studying and working on problem sets together. I’m a big believer in the value of peer-to-peer interaction and the learning that happens when students explain things to each other. Unfortunately, this kind of learning is a lot less common in online classes, as it’s harder to get to know your fellow students during live video sessions (assuming the course even has them), and there’s minimal chance of students running into each other outside class.
In an effort to push our class closer to the traditional model in this respect, I paired up all of my students and declared them “buddies”. I did this through a simple email message to each pair, and told them to think of that message as an introduction and a strong suggestion that they should exchange questions about the material and problem sets before they turn them in. I also suggested that they Skype or meet in the always-open Zoom online conference room where we hold our live sessions. Like many other aspects of the class, this is an experiment–I will report back at the end of the term how it worked out.
As for today’s class, all the technology performed perfectly. It turns out Wednesday’s mid-class technical difficulties were all due to a bad USB hub.