So it seems like at this point, the two biggest areas of concern with the project are the fact that I am picking the groups and how big the groups will be.
As far as picking the groups goes, I don't really have much to add to what I already wrote. What I wanted to comment on was the discussion that's been going on around the issue. I want to commend Drew, for being the only person to actually respond to what I posted. Of all the posts that came later, no one bothered to engage any of my argument. And while I disagree strongly with some of the things Drew wrote (though Mark already called him on some of this), he actually responded to what I wrote. Not that there is anything wrong with just sharing your thoughts, but for the comments section to work to its full potential, it needs to be more than just a place to share thoughts. The point of the comments is to engage with what's written in the blog.
On the group size front, I am sympathetic to what Mike, Drew, and Jack wrote. All of you are right -- getting 5 or 6 people to agree on anything is going to be a huge challenge. I am confident that my students are up to it, though. Part of my motivation for this project is that I want my students to produce something of some value. I do not believe that a group of 4 people would be able to meet my expectations for the project (I was actually giving thought originally to groups of 8 or 12, but was dissuaded from that in the initial posts). With that said, here is what I have planned for the project in hopes that the challenges Mike, Drew, and Jack noted will not get in the way of each group producing an excellent project:
- Students will have at least 6 (nearly) full class period to work on the project. That's 9 hours of time to work, just in class.
- The blog will give students a means to communicate with each other without having to worry about finding a time where everyone can get together
- Before students are even allowed to talk about what topic they want, they will spend time breaking up the project into smaller parts. They will have to submit to me a list of these parts, as well as who is responsible within the group for each aspect of the project. This means that there are really only two decisions that absolutely must be made by the whole group: how to split the project up and what the topic should be. After that, it will be up to students to weigh the pros and cons of having more people working on a portion of the project