So my summer course, “How the Web Works: Building Your Digital Identity, Literacy, and Network,” starts next week for a seven-week run at Austin College. Strictly speaking, it’s not an “online” course…we don’t do those at Austin College. And we don’t really do “hybrid” or “blended” courses, either. We’re a small liberal arts college, and one of our signature themes is a high-touch interactive relationship among faculty and students. So while I’m working with the new initiative in digital pedagogy, it’s not a matter of trading class time for screen time, but rather of augmenting f2f with digital resources.
Right now there’s only one student signed up for the course, which is not too surprising…I’m new, the course is new, and summer enrollments at AC are traditionally small. So I guess we’ll run as an independent study of sorts. Obviously, that’s going to make it pretty difficult to build collaborative and peer elements into the course, but putting it on an open platform at least gives us the chance to connect with people who aren’t formally registered. (AC uses Moodle as its LMS, but I’m not planning to have anything there.) In the future I hope to offer it regularly in the main academic year.
What is this course about? Still working that out…and I’m looking forward to having Chris (the one student) help me with that (as you can see, I’m still working out the site design as well…it’s pretty bare bones at this point!) I want to put a course together that gives students the chance to evaluate their online activity, acquire and build their own web domain (with Reclaim Hosting, natch), learn about the historical, technical, cultural, and epistemological infrastructure of the Web, and develop a professional online identity, a personal learning network in their field of study, and a portfolio to showcase their work.
I meet with Chris for the first time next Tuesday, and we’ll talk about what he wants to learn and how we can work out the specifics. I’ve ordered two books for course–Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, and Clive Thompson’s Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better. There will be plenty of other reading/viewing, but I’d like for us to develop that collaboratively. We’ll do an inventory of his current web activity, and get him set up on WordPress and Twitter. I believe he is a political science major, so I’d like to help him develop a learning network there and to reflectively think about how he wants his academic and professional future to develop in an open networked environment.
This will be my first experience of designing for open pedagogy and learning. I’m used to planning courses and syllabi with lots of structure and detailed objectives…this is going to be more emergent and “messy,” but hopefully with the right amount of scaffolding and direction. I don’t know yet what the biggest challenging will be in “designing for open” … we’ll certainly have discussions about privacy, trust, and the appropriate degree of exposure of student work to the public.
As it happens, I’m teaching another course that starts later in the month, and that will be an online course for a graduate program in theology at Creighton University. Current enrollment is ten. I’ve done that course several times in Canvas, with pretty good results. I’m still toying with the idea of putting at least part of that on WordPress, but not sure at this point. Anyone else out there in the situation of using WP with Canvas?
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