On paper, I feel like my plan to integrate pseudo-social interaction into the homeschool class I tutor was sound. While uploading the student’s essay onto a WordPress blog was relatively straightforward, using an integrated custom Google Map added a bit of flavor to what otherwise would have been a dull educational resource. When I first pitched my idea to the parents, they seemed generally interested; I took this as evidence that what I was creating would succeed—it did not. Unfortunately, some parents become wary of posting their child’s work on the blog itself. I don’t believe this has to do with it being on the Internet per se; rather, I believe they were self-conscious about their peers seeing the work of their kids. It’s hard to get annoyed by this—obviously they have their child’s best interest at heart. However, it was rather fascinating to see how enthusiasm for a concept can wane when it becomes a reality.
The student’s didn’t seem that enthusiastic about their role in the blog either. Since there isn’t much social interaction regarding their respective essays, I assumed that they would be naturally interested in seeing the work of their peers. Unfortunately, this proved to be false. Someone pointed out to me that getting people to leave “natural” comments in a public, online space is incredibly difficult. If you force people to do so—in this case, by making it a graded assignment—the comments become contrived. However, if you adopt my chosen approach of “wait-and-see,” you end up with nothing. It’s a difficult conundrum to crack.
All in all, this was still a great experience. Beyond the obvious benefit I’m now rather familiar with WordPress, I also learned that while feedback from your users is incredibly important, it’s by no means proof that your concept is faultless. In someway, I’m sure this knowledge will prove fruitful moving forward.