Sunday, May 16, 2010

Courseblogging: Here goes!

I start teaching an online introductory course in physical anthropology tomorrow. It is thirteen weeks of regular semester squashed into four weeks. I know there are lots of folks who teach online, but it's all new to me!

So far, the challenges I see are that the students will have to be exceptionally self-motivated in order to complete the course, and that I won't have that in-person contact with them that I get in lectures, where I can see on their faces if they are puzzled about something.

I do see possibilities for applying some of the self-directed learning they have to do for the online course to in-person classes. The online format is making me totally renegotiate the material and figure out how to direct the students to it, rather than feeding it to them. This is a good thing.

So far, I have plans for individual exercises where they must retrieve and apply information from their textbook and supplemental material; online discussions in a blog format, with points for participating and more points for valuable contributions; and a group project tackling some of the larger issues in physical anthropology to be presented as a website, but with ongoing chunks submitted for grades and comment throughout the course. I'm also excited to try a grading method for the group project that I recently was told about that very elegantly combines my grade with the students' assessments of who pulled their weight in the group assignment.

I hate not assigning an essay; I will have to work that into the textbook/supplemental material section. It is a delicate balance between keeping them engaging and working with the material, and my ability to keep up with the grading. This is largely a function of the seriously compressed time line. Even so, I will be taking in and grading material three times a week. I think I'd have been happier if the course was six weeks, but that's me now, before it starts. I'll see how I feel at the end...

1 comment:

Clio Bluestocking said...

Good luck! Being summer, they will probably be more self-motivated than the usual semester. May the force of stamina be with you!