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    ECON 304

    In this course (Intermediate Macro) I used a wiki to provide a space for students to post information and interact with each other.  The course was an experiment which nominally failed, but which had a very nice silver lining.  I was trying out a new text, one which I wasn’t sure would fit my class.  It turned out that the text didn’t fit, but in the process I learned how to get students to read what I assign them.  This has proven very useful in other courses.

    The method was simple.  Each week, I asked students to prepare for class by studying the assigned chapter and writing an analysis of it in advance of the class discussion.  The analysis consisted of two parts: their best summary of the gist of each chapter, including explanation of all key elements to the best of their ability, and a careful list of questions of every element they didn’t understand.  I told students that I would assume they could explain any topic they did not identify as having questions about, and I would potentially call on them to explain the topic if any other student raised it as a question.  My intent with the assignment was to make students think carefully about what they understood and what they didn’t.  The analyses were to be done in groups and they had to be emailed to me by the night before class.  The day of class I would collate all the questions, and post them on the class wiki here.  Class sessions were spent solely working out the answers to the questions raised by students, rather than lecturing on all the material from the chapters, most of which the students understood from the readings.  In short, this was a form of Just-In-Time Teaching.  It would usually take a few class periods to work through all the questions from a given chapter.  I told students I would give them credit for any questions they answered for the class on the wiki.  I also gave them credit for completing the analyses.  Students perceived the analyses as “free” points so they generally did a good job on them.

    I also asked pairs of students to post notes from our class sessions on the wiki.  Over the course of the semester, each student had an opportunity to do this.

    You should know that the wiki linked to here is incomplete, that when I copied the original over to a new server, I only moved enough of it to give the flavor of the original.  My apologies for any dead links you might find.

    I’ve also used social bookmarking, piped into the course website (http://econ304/umwblogs.org) to make available to students any current events relevant to the course that I discover in current media.  I have created del.icio.us tags for each course I teach to keep track of relevant articles and other web publications for each course.