lunchtime: hope springs eternal

Early April is already past time to get my curricular life in order for Fall 2014, and so at lunch I am trying to figure out how to structure my classes — it used to be in the late 20th/early 21st century all I did was figure out what books to assign, rough out the weeks per section, choose the individual lecture and discussion topics, and think through the essay assignments and I was good to go. Now each of my classes has open online components for the source materials and the projects, and that means being extra clever about what books&web look like together.

I do have open online experiments from the last few years to draw on, in which students have done research and analysis activities meant for class discussion at the time,  as contributions to the circulation of knowledge, and to repurpose as foundations for future student projects to take in new directions, for example in my classes next year.

So I have lessons learned about what has worked well and less well for what kinds of students (first years, upper division, honors, etc.) and a better sense of how to prep my students and where to let them fly in terms of introductory steps in humanities research. While experimenting with topics for projects, I’ve also experimented with digital formats — student projects at google sites, pbworks, wikispaces, individual blogs and group blogs, diigo, and pearltrees — and have decided preferences as a result. Why online components? I’ll try to sketch that out in a later post.

So I am halfway there to figuring out the online components, and now have to nail down my book preferences. Why printed books? I’ll try to sketch that out in a later post as well. But integrating both to provide advantages from the best of both worlds is still somewhat tricky for me to manage. But I need both in order to provide the opportunities for online content creation, curation, and participatory leadership that I want my students to experience, underwritten by engagement with authors who examine significant topics at length and in detail in book-length fashion.

And, there goes my lunchtime…#aprilisthecruelestmonth