I’d like you to experiment this week with posting some or all of the materials for your R&C course to WordPress (or another public online platform). I make this suggestion for a number of reasons:
- Designing a course website allows you to present your course as a coherent whole, rather than a hodgepodge of documents posted to a learning management system.
- While there are constraints to any platform, university learning management systems tend to constrict your choices about not only how you can name documents but also how you communicate with students and even assign grades. I don’t feel you should have to adjust your goals as a teacher to the specs of the system.
- It seems to me to make an important statement about the value of teaching as public intellectual work, much like scholarship, when you choose not to hide your course materials behind a security firewall.
- Universities are prone to vacuuming up courses by past employees (and sometimes even current ones) in order to free up space on their servers. (I have learned this the hard way myself.) You may well have more lasting control over your intellectual property, and offer your students more control over theirs, when your course is hosted on a public platform.
So I urge you to give it a try. Basically, I’m suggesting that, rather than creating a Microsoft Word document that serves as your syllabus, design a WordPress site that does. Since my aim in doing so is to allow you more control over the design of your course, I hesitate to offer a template. But I’m happy to share some courses designed by other Koshland fellows, along with some recent courses of my own, as examples of what other teachers have done.
In designing your course site, you’ll probably want to include some version of the following links, pages, or sections:
- Official course description and requirements: Links to the catalog descriptions of your course, as posted by the university, writing program, and/or your department.
- Course overview: A brief description of the particular aims of your course, addressed to the students you’ll be working with.
- Writing projects: The heart of your course—what you will actually ask students to do as writers.
- Schedule: Deadlines, conferences, workshops, etc.
- Grades: For individual essays, attendance, and participation, as well as how you will determine final course grades.
- Polices: Both institutional (e.g., absences, disabilities) and personal (e.g., use of devices in class, late work).
- Creative Commons license.
- Contact info.
I’ll ask you this week to choose a WordPress template for your course, and to rough out the main tabs or sections in it. I’ll also ask you to draft a course overview, a working schedule, and one or two of your key writing projects. We will talk about these documents in seminar. Good luck!