I was listening to my podcasts today and came across an excellent resource that was being discussed by The TechTeacher‘s (Brad Neason) podcast called Digication Campus. Digication Campus and it’s sister program Digication Spotlight is virtual classroom software (open source, of course!) along the lines of BlackBoard and Moodle. The biggest advantage is that it is both FREE and they host your content on their servers (unlike Moodle which you need to host on your own server). AND AS A BONUS IT IS EXTREMELY EASY TO USE!
What got me so excited about this topic was my frustration with scheduling- I have several students that did not have room in their schedule for marching band (read Drum Corps- but that is another story) and since our after school rehearsals are now over it is extremely difficult to get information to them about upcoming events. Enter Digication Campus! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but this would be an excellent way for them to keep in touch with what is going on- I could post topics, a calendar, new music (pdf files) all in a secure area where only my students can access it! With the threaded discussion feature, they can also comment on what is going on and give feedback, ask questions, etc.
I also thought it would be a great recruting tool with the middle school- 8th graders could enroll in the class and have access to all the pertinent information as well as any music that we are currently working on. I think that this concept for students in conjunction with a yahoo or google group for the parents (for newsletters, emails, and events) is just the “bridge” I have been looking for…BUT I must keep in mind the “digital divide” that still exists- there are a significant number of my students and parents who use the computer for little else other than e-mail and word processing. Those are the ones that prefer a phone call or letter in the mail- can’t forget that that legacy is still there- we can’t go totally digital or we risk losing some communication!