WSU mySites in Daily News Story

This is a better article than the one I commented on in the Daily Evergreen. As of the publication of this article,  there were over 2500 WSU mySites and the growth of mySite creation (not to say meaningful use) was 105.8 sites/day (r-square=.99)
WSU launches new service to help students share information

By Erin Madison, Daily News staff writer
Published: 09-07-2006

Brandon Crane takes notes during his classes on his tablet personal computer. The senior studying mechanical engineering and secondary education then posts those notes to his WSU mySite.

His fellow classmates can look at his notes, whether they missed class or simply need to review.

Washington State University launched the mySite service this fall.

MySite allows students to create portfolios of work, share and collaborate on documents, post class notes, and create a profile, said Nils Peterson, assistant director for the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology at WSU.

“It’s a really slick tool,” Crane said.

Crane is a little ahead of the curve. He works at Information Technology Services on campus and has been playing around with mySite since it was in the developmental stages.

About 2,200 students have signed on to mySite. Most of them haven’t actually done much with the site other than look around, Peterson said.

Peterson expects the new program to catch on. If one student asks another for something from class, an eventual response might be, “I have that document. It’s in mySite,” he said.

The Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology has a chart on its Web site that allows students to compare mySite to Facebook and myspace, two popular social networking sites.

MySite wasn’t designed to compete with or perform the same functions as Facebook or myspace, Peterson said.

“It’s actually not very good for social networking,” he said.

Facebook and myspace are good for showing off your social identity or what you did on Friday night, Peterson said.

“This is your academic and professional identity, as opposed to your other identity,” he said.

MySite is only viewable to people with WSU logon user names and passwords, Peterson said.

The idea of mySite stemmed from some departments around campus wanting students to create portfolios of their work, Peterson said. Some departments, such as education and architecture, already have students put together portfolios, but there has been an increased interest across campus for electronic portfolios.

“We’ve been having conversations about this initiative for at least two-and-a-half years,” said Gary Brown, director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology.

Peterson and his crew looked into some different software options and decided to use Microsoft SharePoint to power WSU mySite, largely because its possible uses were broader than some other software.

“MySite is much more powerful than portfolios, but we were after portfolios,” Peterson said.

The university also requires students to submit a junior writing portfolio that includes three term papers they’ve done up to their junior year, he said.

“The simplest thing a student could do is just save their files,” he said.

Students don’t yet have a way to show a portfolio they create on mySite to anyone who doesn’t have a WSU network logon.

Peterson’s department and Information Technology Services are working on a way to either allow students to burn a portfolio to a CD or make it possible for them to allow select people access to their mySite page.

Students should have a way to share their portfolios by next fall, said Debby Lawson, director of ITS operations and system services.

Lawson is also working on adding instant messaging and calendaring to mySite.

Mark Zocher, a student who works as the ITS Help Desk coordinator, has been trying to think of how he wants to apply mySite’s portfolio capabilities to his work.

“It’s a new thing that people don’t really know what to do with,” the junior in management information systems said.

Zocher has had a lot of students ask him what mySite is, but he doesn’t know a lot of people outside his coworkers who have started using it.

He thinks it will catch on as students see what they can do with it. It will just take a little time, he said.

Erin Madison can be reached at (509) 334-6397, ext. 310, or by e-mail at emadison@dnews.com.

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