A Forum of Our Own: The Virginia Woof competition

Due to decisions made which didn’t and don’t have my agreement at all I no longer have a module to teach this semester which has a significant online component.  That’s what you get for being an e-learning innovator.  So … I decided to see whether I could get any interest going on a non-assessed discussion forum on my Level 2 UG module Women’s Writing: Reading Gender.

Within Wolverhampton University’s VLE platform (WOLF) it’s possible to change the name of the ‘Course Café’ which is included within all of our online WOLF topics as a default forum.  So I suggested to the class that they come up with a name for it.  They had a week to post up their suggestions in the forum itself.

In addition, I decided to run the Virginia Woof competition.  We had looked at the famous extract from A Room of One’s Own about the imagined life of Shakespeare’s sister, Judith, in our first class.  In my office I have a copy of ARoOO which was left in class after one of my Women’s Writing sessions a couple of years back.  It was never claimed.  So … I offred a copy of ARoOO as the prize for the best 100 word or less response to the question “Why still have a module called Women’s Writing?”  Why the Virginia Woof competition?  Simply because of the apocryphal story about the student who wrote an entire essay about Virginia Woof … surely one of the best English Studies student howlers (please send me more).  Virginia Woof

I logged on to our VLE late last Friday, not really expecting very much.  To my (pleasant) surprise several names had been suggested (The Purple Room and The Woolf’s Lair were rather good) and about a dozen students had come up with 100 word responses, all of which engaged with a variety of feminist issues and perspectives.  I picked a response that was suitably literary in focus as the winner, and added the quote, verbatim, to the homepage of our VLE topic, so it’s there for the rest of our course.  The Course Café name itself has been changed to the rather witty and Woo(l)f-oriented sugestion in this post’s title.

There’s no integrated use of a discussion forum on this module so it will now be largely up to the student group themselves as to whether they make any use of it as the term goes on.  Certainly getting the class to name their own forum is a good initial way of fostering a community spirit on a module.