Experimental Course: Both instructional and assessment strategies will be implemented in the senior Contemporary Religious Issues course entitled, “Technology and Religion.”
Course Learning Approach:
Daily Class Structure: This classroom is a collaborative workspace. One-half of class time will comprise me talking with you about the topic of the day and guiding you in the process of research and learning. The remaining half will comprise you working toward completing a final course project, sharing your findings, and presenting your project for public consideration to the entire class at the end of the trimester.
Project Workspace Objectives: During the latter half of each class session, you will be working on a project that involves any topic related to the course that you find interesting and your answer to the essential course question. As core objectives, you will design your own curriculum for learning and present a thesis for public consideration. Observe the following steps.
First, select a topic within the overall framework of the subject matter of this course and one related case study, i.e. a real-world case that you read about online involving the application of a modern technology to solve a real-world problem (use your textbook as a starting point).
Second, choose your own learning material in addition to the course textbook and other resources from my own curriculum by researching information online, information related to your chosen technology and case study. Note: This process will be much more extensive than you think.
Third, critically assess what makes your resources for learning quality ones, justify them in writing, and build an annotated bibliography (you can make it as long and detailed as you think you need to in order to be successful in your presentation. Record your bibliography in a google.doc and share it with me at email@example.com. Note: Your curriculum for learning will continue to take shape as you progress in your research. (And don’t be afraid to buy and read select chapters from books you find interesting on Amazon. Branch out! Learn! You might surprise yourself!)
Fourth, present your technology of interest, your one case study, and your answer to the essential course question by presenting a thesis to the class for everyone, including me, to learn from you and offer constructive critical feedback. Teach us something! Finally, share you bibliography with the entire class. Imagine the resources we’re all going to pull together when the course is complete.
Summary: By the end of this course, then, you will lay-out for us in a public presentation your topic and case study of interest, your bibliography of resources and why you chose those particular resources for learning, and your answer to the essential course question as it relates to your topic and specific case (i.e., How does technology affect relationships in this particular case study?). I suggest you present your answers to the following three questions to help you simply and articulate your thesis: How does technology in this case affect our understanding of human nature? How does it affect how individuals relate to one another? How does it affect the way people relate to one another as a community? Finally, is this a good use of technology in this case?
*Do be prepared to field questions and respond to disagreements after your presentation.
I've made quite a few changes/alterations already. I've had to implement some type of assessment tool for grading student bibliographies. This was an obvious need that I neglected at the start of the course. As for positives so far, the use of student google.docs has been working well: It's allowed me opportunity to work with the students in class quite effectively, e.g. monitor their progress and make comments on their progress online in real time. Are they actually working or watching ESPN football videos? With google.docs I know.
Re: some other details, I've required due dates for annotated bibliographies spread across a four week period. By next Friday's class, they are to have a total of ten resources, in full annotated bib form, and to have chosen their one related case study. Maybe this is too much time.
Today, select students stood at to the SmartBoard and shared their topics, case studies, bibliographies, etc. with the class informally. It was a "business session" allotted for critical feedback from other students - a solid opportunity for students to learn from one another as they develop their projects. Also, a student asked if a presenter would send him a link to an article. This was a great segway for me to introduce Digo (a resource for sharing bibliographies that Dolores Gende showed me). Likely, I'll require Digo next trimester, so that by the end of the year, can collaborate by sharing resources.
One thing I've been doing that's proven fruitful is to actually demonstrate for the students, from time to time, how I do my own research, i.e. how I go about preparing this course and class discussions. Last week I showed them how I went about choosing the course textbook itself. (I googled "religion and technology," followed links to quality educational resources, looked them up on Amazon, etc. Points I made: Look at the titles. Immediately look at the author bios. University instructors or professors who have to uphold the school's tradition of excellence in research and integrity? Have they written any other books or articles on related topic? Look at the publisher info. Is the book in a special series related to our topic? Why is publisher info important? )