Can’t Stop Thinking About Teaching

I am in the process of blowing up the structure and organization for my various classes over the next school year at GVSU. This despite the fact that it is summer, and I should be laying out in the sun in my backyard re-reading George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. This is a horrible sickness that I have whereby I get burned out from teaching so much, but spend my off-time thinking of ways to increase my work the next time I teach. Painful.

Unlike past revisions, I have decided to rebuild the courses from the ground up. This involves more clearly articulating course objectives and explicitly linking them to the assignments and tasks (this is a process akin to scaffolding in education, I believe). You might at this point be thinking, “Dude, isn’t this what you should be doing anyway?” Yes, yes, it is, but I’ve never constructed my classes this way before. One of the dirty little secrets of the academy is that the training mechanisms for future faculty (that is to say, graduate school) do not encourage innovation and change. Instead, it is a lot of copying the good bits of what your advisers, professors, and mentors do. In other words, replicating future colleagues who use methods and approaches that were cutting edge in 1991 in 2011. This basically means that much of how I built my courses came from me emulating the style and approach of my graduate school mentors.

But I am not here to get off on a “Higher Ed is History” rant. I have drafted some new general course objectives that I can adapt for different courses, and I want feedback. Here it is so far:

The learning objectives of this course are divided into two broad categories. These are historical skills and content knowledge.

For historical skills, students will gain experience in:
  • Reading, interpreting, and evaluating primary and secondary sources;
  • Developing and framing historical questions and arguments;
  • Integrating primary and secondary sources, historical data, and historical arguments into narratives that interpret, evaluate, and impart meaning upon past events;
  • Attributing source materials properly in your historical narratives;
  • Conforming to the standards and conventions of written expression;
  • Collaborating with peers in the analysis and production of historical narratives;
  • Presenting information through oral expression; and
  • Exploring the intersection of history and new media through the use of Web 2.0 technologies, such as wikis, podcasts, and blogging.
For content knowledge, students will learn:
  • (Here the objectives would be more specific to a particular course; we’ll leave them blank for now)

Thoughts? Is using the phrase “Web 2.0″ too twee nowadays?


Comments

Can’t Stop Thinking About Teaching — 2 Comments

  1. First, I really like your learning outcomes. Would very much like to appropriate them for my own modules, but I think this would go against the spirit of your post!

    Second, I don’t think the term Web 2.0 is ‘twee’. You could use the more generic ‘social media’ but as Web 2.0 is so ubiquitous, it is identifiable and therefore a useful term whereas coming up with a new or less ‘twee’ one might cause confusion.

    • Thanks for the feedback. And no, feel free to appropriate as needed. Everything I post online for my teaching here or on my Teaching Hub is posted under a CC license.

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