Using edWeb for Collaboration in Higher Education
Holbrook Mahn, Professor in the department of Language, Literacy, & Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico, presented in the edWeb.net webinar, “Using edWeb for Collaboration in Higher Education Courses.” Holbrook discussed how he uses edWeb in his higher education seminars.
Since he began teaching in 1997, Holbrook has been interested in the use of technology to facilitate learning in the classroom. Unimpressed with the online platforms provided by the university, Holbrook found out about edWeb through a colleague and was immediately pleased with the wealth of opportunity for collaboration and discussion. edWeb makes collaboration outside the classroom simple for Holbrook’s busy doctoral students, many of whom also balance families and full time jobs.
Using this platform, Holbrook creates community pages for both his doctoral seminar and his seminar on the work of Vygotsky. The main feature he uses in the community pages is the resource library. Here, he uploads audio files for podcasts, presentations, course readings, syllabi, and more. The resource library can even be used to post the “really important things,” Holbrook joked, “like the snack list for the course.”
Holbrook also pointed out the ease with which his students can review each other’s work. Students can review of a piece of literature from the resource library and post their responses on their own edWeb member home pages, easily allowing others to read their reviews. To foster even deeper conversation, Holbrook uses edWeb to divide the doctoral seminar into interest groups, creating community pages for each point of interest. Students can participate in deeper discussion and post reviews of articles in the discussion forum of each community.
The community for his seminar on the work of Vygotsky is particularly helpful to international students, as it allows for collaboration with his American students. Although there were some initial challenges with the international students using some of these online platforms, edWeb was able to assist. “I was very thankful because I had a number of students in China, and at first they weren’t able to (use some of the online networks) but with (edWeb’s) help they were.” said Holbrook. To provide the international students with extra support, he posts recordings from the seminars and summaries of class discussions in the community.
Holbrook concluded the webinar with some of his favorite edWeb features. First, flexibility when customizing the community page has been a great benefit, along with the interactivity and simplicity of the site. edWeb also provides Holbrook with quick and reliable support when needed, and is always open to suggestions. “I would make suggestions to the edWeb team, and they were happy to implement them for ease of use,” said Holbrook. edWeb responded, “We can be better because of all the suggestions you make.” Last, Holbrook mentioned the number one selling point: edWeb.net is free.
By engaging in these groups, members can have access to contacts all around the world that they normally wouldn’t be in contact with through their doctoral programs alone, which can be invaluable for these students. Since members will not lose access to communities, edWeb provides a mentorship program that can continue to grow even after graduation.
Holbrook Mahn is a Professor in the department of Language, Literacy, & Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico, where he has been teaching for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a high school English as a Second Language teacher in Los Angeles. His main teaching responsibilities have focused on helping to prepare teachers to educate culturally and linguistically diverse students, particularly in second language literacy. For the last two decades he has written extensively about the work of Vygotsky.
To hear more about using edWeb for higher education, watch Holbrook Mahn’s webinar.