The World (Wide Web) is my Book: Integrating Media in a Content Course

In this presentation I will discuss the integration of the various media used to teach a "content" course that provided students with a variety of options: meeting totally online, meeting regularly in a computer classroom, or some combination of these options. I will explain and illustrate the outcomes of that course--—History of the English Language , noting the discourse created, the online research skills that emerged, the critical thinking that the course enabled, indeed even the way the variety of media helped students master course content.

Teaching a "content" course (I don't like the term, either) places the teacher in a different context than does teaching a writing course. Writing courses are generally conceded to emphasize art and craft over mastery of a certain body of knowledge, and traditionally, writingsteachers have used networks--LANs and the Internet--for communicative purposes such as MOOs and chats and sharing of writing ideas and drafts and feedback. Content-course teachers have more often than not used the textbook and the class-lecture/discussion. But can the benefits of networks and other electronic media--both as communication media for discussion and critical analysis and as repositories of content—be applied successfully to content courses?

This past fall, in my History of the English Language course, I used no textbook and no class lectures. The content of the course came from the World Wide Web, CD-ROMs, various HyperCard stacks, and audiovisual materials (audiotapes and videos in our Media Center). All work was done online or in the Media Center, and classes met in a networked computer lab with internet access. (In fact, students were given the option of not coming to classes at all.) Class discussions occurred as Daedalus Interchanges, and discussions continued outside of class on the course listserv. The course proceeded inductively, by questions: students were expected to find their own answers in whatever medium they could and share, discuss and critically examine their results online.

Results of my experience may encourage other content faculty across disciplines to move beyond lecture and discussion towards similar kinds of pedagogies for their courses.

Presenter: Rick Branscomb

Category: Classroom practice

Target Audience: Not Applicable

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