Response to Bob

Bob raised an important question on one of my previous postings that demands a response. He asked:

What has happened to instruction in the material that the course is supposed to be about–namely, globalization?

My purpose in teaching this course is to introduce students to intellectual inquiry. The technologies used in the course have been chosen, in part, to conceptually underpin the values of a community of learners. “Small pieces” allow for individual learners to explore and create personal spaces of inquiry, while a “loose joining” of those pieces ultimately creates a community bigger than any one participant. In the process, each student is introduced to a technology toolkit–personal blogs, class wikis, RSS readers, social bookmarking and image sharing–that provides space for their own exploration as well as opportunities to share with and join with other learners. Furthermore, the technologies are ones that each student can take with them and continue to use as they engage in the larger community of learners at the University. (Acknowledgments to Martha and Jerry for their contributing to this paragraph.)

Where does globalization fit in? Globalization is the nominal subject of the seminar, but I admit that a variety of other topics would work equally well with this approach. When one learns to do economic research one needs to start by learning the tools of research, before getting in to the economics per se. In the same way, my students need to learn the tools of intellectual inquiry in the twenty-first century before they can make sense of the topic of globalization. Soon enough, we’ll be done learning the tools and we’ll focus on the subject at hand. So as Bob posits, I imagine “it will all even out at the end.”

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3 Responses to Response to Bob

  1. Martha says:

    What a lovely description of how the technology supports the class content. Beautifully crafted prose. 😉

  2. rrycroft says:

    Good answer. That may not be how I structure my freshman seminar, but I understand “where you are coming from” and where you are going.

  3. Gene says:

    Thanks for stating the rationale for using the tool you’re using so clearly. One of the major challenges facing many of us in education today is unfreezing our positions and acknowledging that there are many legitimate ways of defining what the purpose of a course is “supposed to be.” Well said.

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