What is a HootCourse?
A HootCourse is an online classroom. And then some.
Instead of cumbersome forums or complicated lesson-plan formats, HootCourse uses a combination of the most popular social networks and blogging platforms to provide a new type of online classroom.
HootCourses are built on tweets and status updates in real-time. There's no particular structure to them, at least no more than a classroom with chairs and a blackboard; they're a simple construct that lets a teacher and pupil interact.
Letting teachers teach
Most online learning solutions have the same problem. They try to be a virtual teacher instead of a virtual classroom.
HootCourse sticks solely to the role of classroom. It's a virtual environment built to facilitate the free-flowing dialogue of an educational setting. Like a real-world classroom, it leaves teaching materials and format to the teacher.
Sign in easily, anywhere
Students and teachers can sign in with either Facebook or Twitter.
Both types of users can interact in the course through the HootCourse website. Twitter users can also tweet to the course from Twitter or any Twitter client.
HootCourse can be used from any web browser, even on a phone
HootCourse's flexibility lets students interact anywhere they can use Twitter — at a computer, on their phones, or on a tablet.
Open up education
HootCourses are unique in their openness. Tweets and Facebook updates are visible to followers and friends.
A HootCourse tweet about anthropology could potentially be seen by leading anthropologists. A film student can tweet at movie stars with questions. Opening the classroom to the world opens all kinds of possibilities.
Supplement the classroom
When combined with a face-to-face class, HootCourse fosters a new level of interaction between students.
The social networking features of Facebook and Twitter bring students together faster. University courses can enjoy the heightened discourse that comes with a tight-knit group of students much earlier in the semester than they would otherwise.
There are benefits outside the classroom as well. Students can connect with each other to form study groups, join extracurriculars, or just to say "Hi!"
Using it in class
Using HootCourse during class is particularly handy for extra-large courses. HootCourse's Classroom Mode feature allows course tweets to show up in real-time on a projected screen.
Students can tweet questions, concerns or corrections during a lecture without interrupting the flow of the lecture. The flexibility of the Twitter platform allows students to tweet from phones, tablets, or laptops.
When 140 isn't enough
Academia is built on a foundation of papers. Very long papers. Sometimes 140 character tweets just aren't enough to say what needs to be said.
HootCoursers can set up free blogs with four different top blogging services (Blogger, Wordpress, Xanga and Posterous) and use the HootCourse interface to post to their blogs. Blog posts are instantly created and tweeted to the course, allowing a student or professor to say as much as he or she needs to.
HootCourse essays can be used to expand tweets, or to complete homework assignments. At the end of the course, students will have a blog with all of their HootCourse essays catalogued, ready to link, export or print out. The days of losing work in old forum posts are gone.
Embed it anywhere
The HootCourse mini-client lets you put HootCourse right on your website.
A simple copy-and-paste job gets your course on a website inside the "Hoot!" tab. See our home page for an example.
Everyone's a teacher
Courses are free to create and the format of the course is ultimately up to the teacher. Create a course on Proust's later works or a course on 1950s Chevrolets. Tweet homework assignments, schedule live quizzes on Thursday nights, or just tweet sage bits of knowledge every few weeks.
Teach multiple courses
Teachers can teach multiple courses. Students can learn in multiple courses. HootCourse keeps everything separate and easy to manage.
Twitter has traditionally been used in higher education to make announcements to students. HootCourse encourages conversation, not just one-way announcements.
Still, the "Hoots" tab in every course filters tweets to only show the teacher's tweets, letting students easily see the latest announcements, homework assignments, and extra credit questions.