student-created course management systems

This is my first year using a computer lab in my social studies class. We are totally tech-integrated, using old iMacs with xubuntu. Everything we use is either open source or freeware, with the one exception being the two "teacher" computers that we use for creating videos, documentaries, editing podcasts, etc.

When I first began, I loaded moodle and I was impressed by the multiple features. From one site, students can blog, create wikis, access a course calendar, read assignments and generally work online. Customizing features was fairly easy, despite the fact that I am a techno-neophyte.

After awhile, I began to wonder about the authenticity of the setup. Using a course management system was easy for me. However, it was not unlike teacher back in the day who required binder checks according to their concept of organization. Where should the power lie? Why would I teach in a constructivist method only to organize my course using a standardized format?

So, I changed the system. Instead of having students log into moodle, students had to create their own course mangement system. I required a few features (a link to our daily assignments, homework) and then I let them figure out what links to add, what visuals to create and how to organize their site. The result is that students worked collaboratively on an individual assignment. They shared ideas in groups and customized their sites individually.

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