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Reclaiming The Third Dimension From Telecourse to Blended Course MERLOT Eighth International Conference Minneapolis, Minnesota Friday, 8 August 2008 Joseph.

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Presentation on theme: "Reclaiming The Third Dimension From Telecourse to Blended Course MERLOT Eighth International Conference Minneapolis, Minnesota Friday, 8 August 2008 Joseph."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reclaiming The Third Dimension From Telecourse to Blended Course MERLOT Eighth International Conference Minneapolis, Minnesota Friday, 8 August 2008 Joseph J. Hughes, Ph.D. Modern and Classical Languages Missouri State University

2 Abstract This paper will treat my redesign of a Classical Mythology “telecourse” taped live (and unscripted) in 1996 and originally broadcast over local cable TV. For pedagogical reasons and institutional objectives, the telecourse is being restructured as part of a “blended” learning experience. The presenter’s main challenge is retaining the “performance art” aspect of the original 1996 cable TV lectures, while utilizing successfully adopted technologies, such as dedicated Web and Wiki servers. Another challenge will be working in scripted “review” segments developed along the lines of the presenter’s 2007 “interactive DVD course” on ancient and modern superpowers.

3 Developing the Myth Telecourse - 1996 Institutional objectives –University had a cable channel on the local network, and time on local PBS –Not an awful lot else to run except for telecourses –Perceived need for distance learning classes at off-campus locations –Continuing Education was allowed to keep all tuition fees Pedagogical objectives –Classical Mythology is a “feeder” to Latin majors and Antiquities majors –Higher enrollments might justify additional staffing –Drop-off in pedagogical quality was not expected to be that great Production and deployment –Decision made and contracts signed (Spring 1996) –Filming done on analog equipment, (Fall 1996) –Editing done on a 100 MHz Power Macintosh (Fall 1996-Summer 1997) –Offered via cable channel, PBS, and rented VHS tapes (Fall 1997)

4 Turning Two-Dimensional Students had almost no contact with me –Tended not to be on campus during my office hour –Email was still somewhat of a novelty to students in 1997 “No offense meant, but there is an awful lot of you” –Main visual aid was the fat bald guy with the red beard –Some of my lousy two-dimensional chalkboard art –Very little in the way of graphical reinforcement Students had very low expectations of distance learning –“Sit down, shut up, take notes” was still the prevalent paradigm –Most attractive feature was zero formal class time –Enrollments steadily increased

5 “So Odysseus tells the Cyclops…” The telecourse’s performance-art aspect was enjoyable –Classical Mythology is, at times, a great big soap opera –Thrilling drama, absurd comedy –Some genuinely funny interaction with students Achieved a certain amount of notoriety –Ran on and off on University’s cable station (due to lack of programming) –Even ran on public television… for a while –Raised the profile of the Latin program and Antiquities program Nagging questions about pedagogical objectives –Ultimately I was as two dimensional as my chalkboard drawings –Could not persuade, cajole, intimidate, whatever –This is not why I got into college teaching

6 What about the students? Myth Telecourse was meeting institutional goals –Drew in lots of students, making program look good –Public notoriety due to exposure on cable tv and local PBS station –Good for Continuing Education = 80% tuition fees (per University incentive) –Good for MCL Department = 20% tuition fees –Spawned a “second block” variant which reeled in more students What about the pedagogical goals? What about the students? –Students getting very little personal feedback –From the start, students did more poorly on essay questions –Ultimately I was as two dimensional as my chalkboard drawings –What could I do to enhance the experience? Pedagogical enhancement through technology –Website with study guides and multimedia –Communication via email and WebBoard

7 Trying to blaze a trail Post study guides to the Internet –Lecture transcripts –QT audio movies –JavaScript applets Encourage students to use email –Email not so widespread in 1998 –Required a campus shell account and a client like PINE –If you were clever enough to use email, you likely didn’t need help Encourage students to set up a virtual community –WebBoard 2.0 was nice, but a killer app it wasn’t –Again, students were far less tech savvy a decade ago –I used to be particularly keen on this one – even presented at conventions

8 Building Virtual Communities Web Boards at (1998-2003) –First tried out on 1998 Presidential Pre-College students (HS juniors) –Offered to Freshman Honors, Mythology and Latin students –Originally operated on a crash-prone Pentium I box under my desk Presentation at TechEd 99 (April 1999) Web Portal at (2003-2004) –Discussion venue for both Mythology and Latin students –Intended to foster Public Affairs discussions –Splashier than O’Reilly Web Boards; perhaps too advanced Wikis at and (2004-2006) –Collaborative exercise in building “Wikipedia” clone for Capstone course –Developed “community” – home pages, quote board –Made obsolete by Facebook/Xanga/MySpace

9 Another Opportunity Intervenes I was ready to “put the parts together” to fix the Myth Telecourse –Myth Telecourse had basically settled into grading and customer service –Discussion portal was expiation - and pilot for use in Capstone Telecourse Capstone Telecourse was a deal I couldn’t refuse –Usual 80%-20% tuition sharing arrangement would be in force –Finally, a chance to incorporate my ideas about multimedia –Finally, a chance to teach Roman, Russian, and American history –An all expenses paid eight day research trip to Russia! Capstone Challenges –Capstone class, established 1996, supported MSU’s Public Affairs Mission –Mandatory for ALL students: therefore a tougher audience –Not everyone finds Roman, Russian, and American history as riveting as I do –Live lectures (in front of a class), or scripted?

10 Is it Live… or is it Scripted? Scripted lectures – pros and cons –Pro: unlike myth, history does not lend itself so well to mere storytelling –Pro: names, dates, and important terms are easier to keep straight –Pro: digressions often more confusing than helpful –Con: fat bald guy just standing there lecturing about history –Con: no childish doodles, no bad jokes, no spontaneity –Con: nothing you can’t get by just reading the texts Scripted approach won out –Script ran to 270 single spaced pages –Composed on the Wiki at –Silly on-camera tricks included –Occasional silly graphics thrown in –Digressions and bad jokes written into script

11 The Best (or Worst) of Both Worlds Why the “blended” script-live Capstone Telecourse worked –Strong administrative support and sufficient funding –Effective, motivated three-member core team –Generous amount of candid student feedback –Ability to reassess and innovate –Patience Thank you, thank you, thank you… –Steve Robinette – Assistant Provost for Distance Learning/Continuing Ed –Dr. Madeleine Kernen – Head, Modern and Classical Languages Dept –Lahna Mueller – Telecourse Coordinator –Rich Schuldt –Videographer, Editor, Programmer, Slavedriver –Jen Carson – Art Minion, Fontographer, Assistant Dawdler –Lisa Gray Hughes – Tolerant and long-suffering wife

12 Moving The Project Forward Assets –Entire semester’s worth of canned lectures –Experience in fostering online communities –Certain level of information fluency: blogs, Wiki, Facebook Quick Hits for Fall 2008 –Festina lente (Hurry slowly): sustainability takes time and preparation –Incorporation of written discussion/reflection via Blackboard –Some testing done via Blackboard testing modules (possibly later) Long Term Goals –Comply with institutional imperatives (distance learning, Public Affairs) –Build enrollment for MCL Department and Classics imperatives –MW (no Friday) schedule = enticement for students, incentive for teacher –Good, clean, sustainable fun for everyone

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