OpenLab Pioneers!

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  • #12337

    Daniel Alter
    Participant

    I hope everyone is safe and weathered the storm well.

    OK, so I have my first student registered. First issue, I can only see the display name they chose. How can I get more information about the course members? Like name?

    Danny

    #14072

    Maura A. Smale
    Participant

    Hi Danny,

    You should be able to see your students’ full names in the Users section of the Site Dashboard, but it doesn’t seem to be working right now. I’ll report that as a bug.

    Thanks,
    Maura

    #14083

    Daniel Alter
    Participant

    Hello Maura,

    Any word on the bug fix. As students are signing up I have a hard time deciphering their names. :)

    Thanks,
    Danny

    #14084

    Maura A. Smale
    Participant

    Hi Danny, it looks to me like it’s working now, can you check the Users list under the site Dashboard and let me know if you see it? Thanks!
    Best,
    Maura

    #14099

    Daniel Alter
    Participant

    Hi Maura,

    The students do appear under the site users in admin. However, group site and discussion boards I see only user names. Is there any way to make the admin. be able to see the students name or do I need to go back and forth to decipher who is posting?

    Danny

    #14100

    Maura A. Smale
    Participant

    Hi Danny,

    Yes, to protect users’ privacy we are only showing the display name (which can be edited in your profile) on all areas of the OpenLab.

    One idea in the short term is to print out the listing of student names from the Users list in the Dashboard, so you have a listing to keep at hand. Your suggestion to allow admins to see the users’ full names is intriguing, and we can definitely explore it in the future.

    Best,
    Maura

    #14101

    Scott
    Participant

    I agree it would be good for the admin to see the non-public name, since there are students who are (reasonably) reluctant to publicly display full names.

    But also, Danny, I know you’re pressed for time in your course and have a lot of students, but it’s also good if you have any time at all to talk about professionalizing user names and why one might want to take ownership of ones work. I’m not sure this is what you’re dealing with, but when I’m confused it’s often because a student has chosen a less-than-professional email address and/or user name. I like to take a minute to talk about how good habits in the college arena might lead to employable habits in the professional one, because they do, and learning skills like this is not a small part of why they decided to come to school. And, too, if you don’t have time for that, there’s always the option of: ‘it’s very hard for me to give you credit when i can’t figure out who you are!’ For some reason that also tends to work.

    Best,
    Scott

    #14102

    Elizabeth Alsop
    Participant

    Scott makes a great point. In the short term, one other idea would be to do something as basic as circulate a sheet in class, and have students just write down their names and usernames. You could also ask them to add this information to a Doc; since your course is private, it would only visible to members. This is probably more cumbersome than Maura’s suggestion, but it would also allow students to identify each other, which could be helpful in a discussion setting?

    Best,
    Elizabeth

    #14103

    Prof. Paul King
    Participant

    As far as student public names go I think we should display their proper names publicly, This is a school site for their work as students and not a purely social site. When I see the list of my students (still mostly without avatar photos) I have to translate their chosen names with their proper names to know who is who.

    when you select the student profile it only shows their display names and not their full names. Its the beginning of the semester and I am still trying to connect names to faces – and this would make this all much easier.

    I think student display names should be their proper names. They should all be proud of what they write and enter on their sites.

    #14104

    Scott
    Participant

    I see your point Paul. I agree about encouraging them to claim their work, because it generally results in better student work and engenders pride in the accomplishments of a term.

    At the same time, I’ve slowly become more sympathetic to student’s potential anxiety over their trackability, if you’ll forgive the term. If the openlab is truly open, that means a person conceivably can by searching find out that they are part of your course, and thus (not to sound alarmist) that such and such person could possibly be found in such and such a room on such and such days.

    I have to admit that I tend to feel that such anxiety tends to sound like paranoia, but then I realize I’m not worried about what people see about me. And I am obviously sold on the value of open platforms–I think they allow for a unique and invaluable kind of student ownership. At the same time, I’ve talked to enough students to start to grasp the reasons why students might be in some cases uncertain to put their full name on a post/page/comment.

    So it’s a tough call, but I think university or even professor insistence that they use full names is probably a bit too directive. An encouraging, positive conversation about the value of openness might be the better route.

    That said, in any case we do need a way for you to not have to struggle to connect names. We’ll figure one out for you.

    Best,
    Scott

    #14105

    Prof. Paul King
    Participant

    Hi Scott,

    I can see it both ways but at present I am unable to grade my students work because I can’t tell who is who? We need to remember this is a teaching tool – and part of teaching is the process of evaluation and providing feedback. I always see my first goal as developing a rapport with my students. If I do not know who I am talking to how can I connect my online conversations to the student I know in my classroom.

    I see this as a real flaw in the system –

    Also – with a background in programming it would not take much to program the display name to show additional information when the user logged in is a professor…… so we can see this info but other students would not…..

    But I still would debate strongly that students should be identified by name. If they want to keep information private then they need to keep the pages private or they can send me email.

    #14106

    Prof. Gold
    Participant

    Hi Paul,

    I think it’s a feature of the system rather than a flaw.

    We’re trying to encourage openness here, which means that we want students to learn and share in open environments so that they can begin to learn from one another and see what’s happening in different classrooms. While you’re right that that students should have an *option* to post under their own full names, and while I agree that that makes things easier for faculty members, we have to think about student privacy in such open settings. And, in particular, we have to think about Google.

    Think about our first-year students this semester. Ten years from now, should they be forced to have the work they did during their first semester of College listed among the results when their names are googled? It may be one thing when that work includes something like an architectural sketch, but it’s another when it includes something like the writing assignment I just gave my class, which involves a personal essay about an encounter with an object from the past (it’s part of a unit in which we’re discussing approaches to archival materials). I don’t know what my students are going to write (and, in fact, they’re not going to be posting those essays on the OpenLab, but humor me for the sake of discussion), but I’d guess that they wouldn’t want them reviewed by a potential employer in ten years.

    Having students post openly and publicly, but *not* under their full names, provides an easy way around that problem. Students can still gain the benefit of sharing their work with others, but it won’t follow them around for the rest of their lives.

    I think it’s also important to say that this project is, in part, about empowering our students and giving them control over this academic space, starting with their own profiles, and extending to the project and club sites they create. Forcing students to present themselves online in a certain way not only disempowers them — it also evades the real discussions we should all be having right now about online identity, online materials, and the highly networked culture in which participate.

    Finally, it’s important to mention that although courses play a central role on the OpenLab, they are not its entirety. Since the site also includes other kinds of student-centered spaces, like clubs, we need to think about whether we’re discussing changes in only the course sections of the site or the entire thing. Of course, the more localized the changes — if we want full names to appear ONLY to professors ONLY on course spaces — the more custom programming we have to do.

    Scott and others have suggested some good initial workarounds to this situation. Another that you might consider, for now, is asking your students to set their display names to “FirstNameLastInitial” — ie., “paulk” — so that you can tell them apart in course spaces.

    Of course, the easiest thing to do is to lock everything down, as Blackboard has done. We don’t really need to worry as much about privacy when nothing can be seen. But such locked-down spaces also discourage sharing and innovation, and the OpenLab is meant to break through such siloed environments. Already, I’m having fun here checking out the work I see going on in other courses — and, much more so than in other semesters, I have a sense of the kinds of work my colleagues are doing across the College. Already, I feel part of a network in ways that I didn’t before.

    Whatever we do, we need to look at this from both the faculty and the student perspective, and I’d argue strongly that student privacy (even in open spaces, and perhaps even especially in such spaces) needs to be our primary concern.

    Best,

    Matt

    #14107

    Prof. Gold
    Participant

    Hi All,

    It’s interesting to note that we’re not alone in having these discussions; Google+, Google’s new social networking platform, has provoked a similar debate over names, pseudonyms, and privacy. The service has a “real name” policy that requires users to use their real names; the policy has been critiqued widely. Here are a few reactions that may be of interest:

    danah boyd: “Real Names” Policies Are an Abuse of Power”
    http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2011/08/04/real-names.html

    Cory Doctorow: “Google Plus forces us to discuss identity”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2011/aug/30/google-plus-discuss-identity

    boyd’d piece, especially, gets at some of the unintended consequences that can result from what might seem, on the surface, like a very common-sense “real name” policy. What interests me is how we can continue to encourage openness and sharing while protecting privacy in open spaces AND while making sure that faculty members can easily and effectively interact with their students. It’s a challenge that’s not easy to solve, but conversations like this can help us get there.

    Best,

    Matt

    #14108

    Prof. Paul King
    Participant

    Hi Matt,

    I see your point and think we can have it both ways…… it would just be a matter of programming.

    The issue here for me is that as a teacher of a course – I see their full names in the posts. Since the system always knows if we are logged in or not it would also have access to our profile variables and know if we are students, faculty, facilitators or when this “variable” is undefined. Some simple custom code that tests for our “group” could take care of this…..

    If {group == “faculty”}
    then Set Display Name = “FirstName” & ” ” “LastName”
    else
    Set Display Name = “Users Default Display Name”
    Endif

    Since search engines cannot gather their data when using a login this students privacy should be maintained but when I am logged in as a “faculty” member I would be able to see the full names…. this piece of code would just need to be added to the script that runs after someone logs in……

    I would be happy to get involved in discussions with the programmers to help this effort….

    thanks

    Paul

    #14109

    Prof. Gold
    Participant

    I think that’s a perfect solution, Paul, as it will preserve student privacy but also allow faculty members to identify students in their courses. It’s not something we’ll be able to implement right away, but it’s something we can work on and try to get onto the site as soon as possible. Thanks for all of this great feedback and thoughtful discussion.

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