We get occasional requests from faculty and students to provide a learning community. In response to that I've been doing a little research around software we could use to provide the infrastructure.
I've been watching my resident teenager use MySpace, so I was looking for something with similar features, but even cooler. (Cool is important when you are living with a teenager). It would need to be able to host multiple communities, so we would have a space for faculty lounges, administrative blogs, student groups, study groups, etc. We have a lot of faculty who do neat things online or in your other lives, so I'd like to have a way for people to let us know what else you are doing and how it intersects with your teaching life. What I have found is ELGG.
ELGG has a free space at www.elgg.net (and information at www.elgg.org). I joined and set up a community called CCCOnline Faculty. If you go join ELGG to try it out please join that community also. This is open space software, so if we really want to use it we will probably install it on our own servers, so we have a more private/controlled space. For now though, I am interested in opinions other than my own. What do you think both for yourselves and for students?
(Side note re why not to simply do this in Vista -- 1) Not a recommended use of the software, they don't really expect course shells with more than 5,000 users. 2) When Vista is down, this would still be up, improving communication. 3) Different purpose usually means different software because the features we want are different. 4) user control -- which we can't give in Vista.)
On a completely different note-- several of you read the article in the Chronicle on adjunct faculty (http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2006/11/2006112901c/careers.html). I also read that article and followed the link to the AAUP article on "contingent faculty". Many years ago CCA used a two tiered adjunct faculty system that assumed many adjuncts had a strong and long-term relationship with the college. I was a part of that and appreciated the additional committment the college made to those adjuncts. CCCOnline does not have the ability to write longer term contracts at this point, but we do talk about possibilities and understand the benefits both sides of the equation would receive. It's not a conversation that is moving forward particularly swiftly, but at least it has begun.