I’ve just stumbled across http://hatchpath.com, a site for student exchange of information on their modules. It seems to have very smooth and intuitive tools for information sharing and strikes me as quite Facebook-like in its approach to making things easy. It took me less than a minute to sign up and find a list of Part 1 biology modules I might be taking at the University of Reading.
There is an introduction to this software in the University’s student newspaper Spark of 25 October 2012. In the comprehensive interview the developer of Hatchpath discusses many of the difficulties of using Blackboard encountered by students. It’s very easy to understand some of these frustrations.
It’s good to see that during our JISC Digitally Ready project we have been chosen to be the institutional guinea pigs for this project:
“DT: So is that why you’ve chosen to launch the Hatchpath beta here, because of that personal connection to Reading University?
PT: In a sense, yes. All of my friends were at Reading University- we already knew some students at Reading University who could help get the word out. So that’s what made us select Reading University. Also another reason we selected Reading was because we wanted to start with a top-class university, a very good university of good standing who can appreciate what we’re trying to do. I have friends in other universities around the country but I think Reading is the best option.” (Spark, 25 October 2012)
This software is quite separate from Blackboard but overlaps with the use of the discussion board and wiki areas and this could potentially lead to complications for those staff who use these tools in their assessments however it also has quite a Facebook like feel and may allow. The current Hatchpath is a beta version and I’ve noticed a few glitches when running it on my iPad such as in inability to close some pop-up windows without using the back button on the browser. As a long-term frustrated user of Blackboard, I’ll be following the progress of this software with interest.