For this seminar on the Information Age, I wanted to try something different. I wanted to combine digital history projects with a genuine engagement with scholarly readings and discussions of themes. But I also wanted to engage the students in creating the course itself.
So, in late July/early August I created a rough syllabus (version 0.9) here. It has a rough semester calendar with four broad eras of the "Information Age" -- Print (and its predecessors), Early Networked Communication, Broadcasting, and Information in the Digital Age. It includes three books I had the bookstore order and will have the students read over the course of the semester. It includes what I see as the non-negotiable parts of the course:
"Students are expected to attend all classes, read all assigned texts, post regularly to the individual blogs, participate in class, and help lead two weeks of class discussions. Students are also expected to contribute to the creation of a public, digital timeline of developments, events, people in the information age and add materials to it all semester."
Participation will be worth 40% and blog posts will be worth at least 10%.
Here's what I don't know and what I want to figure out with the class over the next 10 days or so.
- I don't know quite what that timeline will look like yet. I don't know what will make it on the timeline, how exactly we'll construct it, what we will add to it and how.
- I don't know what the other 50% of the graded portion of the course will consist of.
- I imagine some of it will be material that enriches the digital timeline, but I don't know what that will be yet.
- Some preliminary discussion of ideas on the syllabus comments suggests a student interest in group projects, perhaps video recorded oral histories of aspects of the Information Age.
- Others have discussed the value of infographics for displaying particularly perspective on trends/ideas/concepts.
- It's also possible that they will include formal or informal presentations of their work as part of the graded portion of the course.
- I don't know which topics the class will want to focus on and for how long.
- On a related note, I don't know which readings/texts/images/videos we'll be using beyond the three core texts to explore the topics the class wants.
- I don't know if this will work. But I've got a group of students who genuinely seem excited by the chance to try, and so I'm excited too.