Teaching Lessons: Teaching World Lit to Fourteen Faces

This semester I am teaching a world literature class for our brand new honors program. I’ve taught the course face to face twice but this semester brings a new format to the table. The company that my community college is currently contracted with uses the concept of a flipped classroom where most of the work done online and supplemental instruction is done in once or twice a week synchronous sessions in Adobe Connect. I spent the last semester developing the course with a course designer which involved taking my course content and translating it into this new format.

This is brand new venture for me and I’ll be posting more about it as the course progresses. There are some positives and negatives about this new format but right now I’m just trying to take in the new experience and see what I can learn from it. I’m not convinced that this new format is the “wave of the future in education” but I think there are some valuable things that can be learned from using the technology for both students and professors, but I’ll be writing about those thoughts at a later date.
For now I’m still digesting meeting with students once a week in a session that essentially entails me talking to a screen of fourteen faces. Think the Brady Bunch screen and you begin to get the idea. This screen shot demonstrates what I see:

Every Wednesday afternoon I sit in my dining room and talk about world literature with my class of fourteen for about an hour and twenty minutes. It is a somewhat odd experience to be sitting in your house teaching a course, but so far I’ve enjoyed the experience. Granted, I’ve only met with my students for two sessions, but they seem comfortable with the technology and today’s discussion about Gilgamesh went much like discussions I’ve had in my traditional face to face classes. I am also lucky in the respect that many of these students took classes in this format last semester, so the technology is familiar to them at this point. 
What I like the most about this format and online education in general is that I have students who are taking this class in Fort Wayne, Muncie & Lafayette in addition to Indianapolis. They may not have access to the course otherwise, especially if it were in a face to face format because their campus may not have offered it or their schedules may not have permitted it even if it was offered. 
I still prefer teaching a face to face class, but I’m always open to trying something new and I think that this experience will ultimately be valuable. 

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