The Distance Enhancement Project asks students working locally in groups to use online technologies to make a tangible, beneficial contribution to the other university. Each group’s choice of technologies should respond to the exigence of the situation, but three separate technologies are required (options include Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, YouTube, blogs, RSS feeds, and podcasts, among others).
To identify an enhancement to make, each student will research the other university and compose a Research Report positing a way to contribute. Each student will deliver an individual Enhancement Pitch to the other class based on this report. The other class will select a limited number of these pitches to move forward for group development.
Enhancements need not be overly grandiose, but they should be beneficial for a defined group. Examples of previous enhancements include:
At the conclusion of the project, each student will assess his or her own contribution to the group's efforts and those of the other other group members. Part of each student's project grade will be based on this peer assessment.
The Research Report should be a document of approximately 3 pages identifying a practical way to benefit the other university. The benefit should be derived from research, and thus the Research Report should reference no fewer than 3 resources that demonstrate the genuine utility of the proposed change. (This is an individual project component worth 20% of the overall project grade.)
The Enhancement Pitch is a 5-minute individual presentation based on the Research Report and delivered to the other class. Its purpose is to get the other class to select the corresponding topic. Only a limited number of pitch topics will be selected to move forward for development. (This is an individual project component with the opportunity to obtain bonus points.)
The Design Plan is a detailed worksheet that formalizes the rhetorical of each group's proposed benefit. That is to say, the Design Plan establishes each group's goals and how they will be achieved by describing what technologies will be employed, who they will target, their contexts of use, and how they will be consciously crafted to achieve specific effects. (This is a group project component worth 20% of the overall project grade.)
The Enhancement Materials are the actual online technologies that will be used to effect a beneficial change at the other university. These materials might include, for example, a Facebook group, a YouTube video, or a Twitter feed. Materials should be rhetorically sophisticated and demonstrate coherence with the corresponding Design Plan. (This is a group project component worth 50% of the overall project grade.)
The Postmortem is an individual, confidential form that assess the contributions of all group members to the project. Each student will receive an individual grade for this project component based upon the Postmortem assessments of his or her efforts. (This is an individual project component worth 10% of the overall project grade.)
Near the end of the semester, each group will prepare a 5-minute presentation identifying project successes. That is to say, the Outcome Check is each group's opportunity to demonstrate that their proposed beneficial contribution has come to fruition (or has been greatly advanced). Members of both classes will vote on the success of the projects, and group bonus points will be distributed accordingly. (This is a group project component with the opportunity to obtain bonus points.)
Students will submit their Research Reports present their Enhancement Pitches during week 7. Groups will form shortly thereafter and construct their Enhancement Materials with the expectation that these materials will develop throughout the semester as each group attempts to enact its beneficial change. Near the end of the semester, groups will share their achievements with the class.