February 1999 // Letters to the Editor
Using MOOs to Develop Online Learning Communities
by Joseph Moxley
Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source (http://ts.mivu.org/) as: Joseph Moxley "Using MOOs to Develop Online Learning Communities" The Technology Source, February 1999. Available online at http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=1034. The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

In a chapter in Technology Tools on Today's Campuses, the precursor of The Technology Source, Claudia Keenan argues that MOOs provide educators with an inexpensive space for online collaboration. Students can use a MOO to discuss class projects with one another, to chat with students and teachers at other schools, and to access specialists who happen to be logged on to a MOO. Educators are only beginning to realize the potential of MOOs, and are thrilled by the new opportunities for collaboration that MOOs allow (at a price most universities can easily afford).

At the University of South Florida (USF), for example, faculty members have used MOOs to interview authors of course texts, to facilitate the co-authoring of assignments, to respond online to course readings, to collaborate on lesson plans, and to reconstruct central course concepts in a textual space (http://www.lib.usf.edu/~ifrank/jax98.html). Charla Bauer, one of the instructors in our learning community program, has used MOOs to facilitate pedagogical discussions among students in elementary schools and in higher education.

I invite readers of The Technology Source to experience the value of MOOs by joining a general discussion about our upcoming national conference: Creating and Sustaining Learning Communities (http://www.usf.edu/~lc/conf). Conference organizers will be present for the discussion on Wednesday, February 3, 1999, at 4:00 p.m. EST. Led by Eric Crump, Web Site Manager for the National Council of Teachers of English, we will focus our discussion on the topics listed in the conference agenda and on ways of establishing fertile online learning communities via chat rooms, Web forums, and mailing lists. During our MOO, we will also explore how educators can facilitate the development of online learning communities.

For instructions on entering and using our MOO space, see http://www.cas.usf.edu/~moxley/lc. If February 3 is inconvenient, check our Web site for additional MOOs which we plan to sponsor before our national conference in Tampa this March. We hope that you will join us so that we can explore together how to establish more effective communities—communities that help us make connections with one another, not only on our campuses, but also online.

The Horizon Web site is a co-sponsor of the conference and will publish the presentations by keynote speakers, workshop leaders, and some 80 presenters at http://horizon.unc.edu/conferences/lc/.

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