I’ve been looking at courses that are open to the general public for free as part of an upcoming presentation on open content. The idea is quite amazing. One “facilitator” is needed to organize the students and set up discussions. The rest of the course depends largely on the students themselves, though it usually consists of online group discussions, readings (recommended and self-chosen), and a final project that is peer reviewed. Example courses include the FacebUOC project and the Connectivism course from Downes and Siemens.
The Mixxer up until this point has focused on organizing single and isolated exchanges between one of our students and a native speaker. It seems the student would benefit much more if we could provide a system that encouraged this relationship to be maintained for the duration of the course, if not longer. Students often do friend their partner via Facebook etc., though no structure is given to encourage future meetings.
Beyond friending each other on the Mixxer and Facebook, I’m a at a bit of a loss. The current exchanges work, largely due to their incredible flexibility and reliability. By directing a student to work with an individual, both are mostly lost. Unlike the connectivism course, the language exchanges don’t scale very well. I could increase the flexibility and reliability by adding students to groups. The larger the group, the more flexible and reliable. However, the size is inversely proportional to the amount of language our students would use.
The key would seem to be to offer both sides an incentive and easy format to follow to continue the relationship, without it becoming a requirement for either. I’m very open to ideas if anyone has any suggestions.