In Common this Week: Teaching on the Commons

Welcome fellow Commoners,

As I mentioned last week, the talented people who work behind the scenes on maintain and improve the Commons have been preparing for a major update that should make teaching on the Commons much easier for undergraduate instructors. There’s already a lot of great teaching and learning already underway on the Commons and so I wanted to share some of the new courses this semester as inspiration for your future courses.

Professor Dinsman’s WWII Literature English 401 class (York) – Professor Dinsman’s site shows how the media-rich possibilities of the Commons enables students share their “readings” cultural materials. Dinsman has students research propaganda posters, try out recipes designed for war-time rations (the results are not quite Instagram ready) and more.

Professor Walia’s English Composition 121 class (Lehman) – Professor Walia has embraced multimedia on his site that makes use of internet humor (GIFs!) and a robust discussion forum where students post links, ideas, pictures, questions, etc. Professor Walia is also good about reminding students that the site is public and to anticipate public engagement but also to constantly frame their work with that awareness. As more instructors add digital components to their courses, being sure students understand the implications of digital participation (both good and bad) is critical.

Digital Praxis Seminar (Graduate Center) – It makes sense that the Digital Praxis Seminar would be taught on the Commons. This team-taught course walks students through the planning and implementation phases of digital tools and unlike the two examples above, the students are authors and editors of the blog itself. There are private posts and password protected posts as well, giving students options for how open they wish to be to the general public, but the majority of the site shows different students and groups thinking through their projects and the team of instructors and invited guests often encourage a lively discussion.

That’s all the inspiration for this week. It’s only three sites but each rewards a long look to see how the instructors are making use of Commons features, the unique capabilities of a digital platform, and the opportunity to craft interactive assignments.

Until next week,

Paul

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