Lore is a free web service that aims to blend social networking with academic utilities and provide a more engaged online experience for students and instructors. Lore looks to make the online aspect of the college classroom experience more personal for students, and make it easier for them to get to know their fellow classmates and interact with them. A Lore profile consists of a “timeline” style profile page, similar to Facebook.
According to their website, “You and your students get a rich profile to show off your academic achievements and aspirations. What have you studied, taught? What are your dreams? Follow colleagues and students to stay in touch.”
This format should yield a more organic and fluid feel to the discussions than the somewhat awkward “Discussion Board” feature of Blackboard.
“Like popular social networks, discussions on Lore are lightweight and fun. You’ll get a modern tool for sharing materials, plus a gradebook that puts names to faces,” says Lore’s Information page.
For course management, Lore offers a calendar tool which makes it easy for students to see what is coming up and when something is due.
The gradebook tool is one of Lores’ main selling points. It is advertised as much easier to use than an excel spreadsheet, and makes it more interactive for the student. After a professor posts a grade to the gradebook, the professor can leave a comment or explanation of the grade, which the student can then respond to. Hopefully this will lead to students having a better understanding of what is expected and required of them in a particular course.
The Library feature offers users unlimited storage, and is a place that not only allows instructors to post supplemental materials for the course, but also allows students to post things they find that they think would be beneficial or related to the subject matter.
“People in your class can post notes, links, videos, and much more. They can comment on or ‘like’ what’s shared. The social media dynamic is natural to your students. It will turn your class into a community,” as stated on their Information page.
While the course-specific aspect of Lore seems quite impressive, the scope of Lore really reaches beyond the classroom. This is something that really sets it apart from Blackboard. Students can create groups similar to a Facebook group that allows them to plan and coordinate activities and events in one place. The groups could be used for anything from academic clubs to study groups, or even just as a place for people with common interests to chat.
Despite being a very new website, Lore claims that instructors at over 600 colleges and Universities have adopted Lore. Right now, McDaniel students and instructors are locked out of the heart of Lore.com, due to a lack of McDaniel users being registered. At the time of this writing, 31 users from McDaniel need to register for Lore before its features are fully functional for us to use.
Registering for Lore is very simple; anyone with a Facebook account can activate a Lore account in seconds with a simple click on the “Register Through Facebook” button. If you choose, you can also activate an account through your email. The best part of it is, Lore is completely free to use for both students and instructors, and according to the website it “always will be”.
The combination of social networking and academic utility make Lore an enticing option for McDaniel College. Since it is free, there are no foreseeable risks in giving it a shot. I would encourage any of you reading this to go ahead and register for Lore.com, so that we can get enough people registered to see what it actually looks like on the inside.
I would also strongly encourage any professors reading this to seriously consider using Lore for your classes next semester, even if for no other purpose than to give a side by side comparison of Lore to Blackboard.