Maybe none of you liked Provost Jim O’Donnell’s suggestion that Georgetown professors find creative ways to hold class on a snow day, but Communications, Culture and Technology Professor Diana Owen did. When she read O’Donnell’s e-mail encouraging professors to use technology to continue teaching, Owen told Vox in an e-mail, she was intrigued rather than annoyed.
So although she was holed up in her home in Maryland on Tuesday morning, unable to get to campus and surrounded by downed trees and powerlines, Owen still managed to hold her twenty-person, 10:15 a.m. “Media and Politics” seminar using a real-time blog.
“Within minutes, students were generating thoughtful, quality posts that drew upon course readings, previous discussions, current media developments, and their own insights,” Owen wrote in her e-mail. “I felt more like a participant in the discussion than a teacher telling things to students.”
The blog, which was set up for her by Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, was created especially for Owen’s Tuesday morning experiment. She started their discussion with a single blog post presenting “two major trends in the field” and posing a set of questions.
But Owen, who like the Provost values f2f contact (OK, she didn’t actually say that—she said, “I am a great believer in actual face time with students”), had doubts about how well her experiment would work. She expected that the conversation would veer off topic, that students might not post, or that holding class in blog form would limit the quality of the discussion.
She was pleasantly surprised, however, when their two hour discussion generated over 80 blogs posts.
“The result was incredibly productive and positive,” Owen wrote. In a separate e-mail to Provost O’Donnell, Owen said, “While this experiment was far from earth-shattering, I think is a strategy that can be easily adopted by other faculty who may be happily surprised at the results.”
Photo by Makeda Easter from the Vox Populi Photos Flickr group