I came across this useful tool this morning thanks to watching Anne Marie Cunningham’s interesting presentation on using Web 2.0 technologies in BlackBoard. The tool is called Social Networks Adapting Pedagogical Practice (SNAPP) and it is defined on the SNAPP site as:
SNAPP is a software tool that allows users to visualize the network of interactions resulting from discussion forum posts and replies.
It works incredibly easily.
You simply complete the short form on the site and then add the bookmarklet to your browser. Then browse to the forum of your choice in Moodle, BlackBoard (including Vista) or Desire2Learn and click the bookmarklet in your toolbar. A Java application appears in the LMS below the forum and the network gets analysed.
I have to say I’m not a big fan of client side Java in the browser but this implementation works really well.
The network diagram can be really useful for educators. These advantages are listed as:
- identify disconnected (at risk) students;
- identify key information brokers within your class;
- identify potentially high and low performing students so you can plan interventions before you even mark their work;
- indicate the extent to which a learning community is developing in your class;
- provide you with a “before and after” snapshot of what kinds of interactions happened before and after you intervened/changed your learning activity design (useful to see what effect your changes have had on student interactions and for demonstrating reflective teaching practice e.g. through a teaching portfolio)
- allow your students to benchmark their performance without the need for marking.
I think this is a really cool tool. Well done to the project team from the University of Wollongong, University of British Columbia, Murdoch University, University of Queensland and RMIT University.