Connecting to “Connected Courses”

By Silver Spoon (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
I am happy to participate in this fall’s Connected Courses cMOOC. As a recent member of FemTechNet, I am an advocate and believer in opening my courses to the world. This fall, I will be teaching an introductory course for potential future “Whittier Scholars.” Whittier Scholars are students who design their own majors, building intentionally interdisciplinary study programs by putting together courses from across Whittier’s divisional offerings, enriching their experience with study abroad and/or off campus experiences, and all leading to/driven by their own research project.

Whittier Scholars was initially developed in 1977, and has steadily served about 10% of the annual graduating class from Whittier College. See the program descriptions and guidelines here. This semester, our class will be meeting the Wardman Hall A, a newly updated seminar room with a Smartboard, and a local area wireless system to allow all our devices to share screen space (thanks Shezad B!). Hopefully the technology will work effortlessly…although I keep trying to remind myself that learning to deal with technological frustrations is itself a skill well worth sharing as a group.


Whittier Scholars 101, fall 2014

I have posted my draft syllabus for WSP 101, the introductory course for the Whittier Scholars program, here. This syllabus will evolve over the semester in response to student interests. We also will be connecting with other courses and the web throughout the course: students will be blogging on, into the collection Whittier Scholars 101. We will be tweeting links to blog posts, and tweeting questions and thoughts about the shared readings. In October, students will meet Howard Rheingold, who is visiting our campus and giving a talk. In November, we will all participate, along with folks from Canada and Egypt as well as Georgia and New York, in a remix of Pete Rorabaugh’s TvsZ game. Finally, the final unit of the course is currently blank, as students themselves will be writing the syllabus based on their own evolving interests and questions.

“Teaching” a course with so much unscripted and open content is both exciting and a bit scary. I have long taught courses which emphasize discussion over lecture, but ceding control over the syllabus–that last bastion of professorial perogative–is new for me. (In fact, I imagine students will be doing much of the “grading” themselves, as we will collectively building evaluative rubrics for assignments, and they will be devising some of the assignments themselves.) I am looking forward to meeting my students next week, and learning with them what we will all be learning this semester.

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