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