teaching internet invention to 100 undergrads
This semester Anders Fagerjord (at the University of Oslo) is teaching a course based on Gregory Ulmer’s book Internet Invention. The course at UiO is called MEVIT2500: Multimodal design (web-design) (NB: It’s in Norwegian). I’m really impressed – I haven’t read the book thoroughly, but took a look last semester (at Anders’s suggestion), and thought wow, this looks like a great way of doing a course but way too complicated, especially in our Norwegian system. Basically the students construct their own online identities, creative web-based mystories, and learn a lot about rhetoric and theory on the way. Ulmer includes all the exercises and lecture notes and such, but the level seemed quite ambitious for undergrads. Perhaps I judged too fast: Anders is running this as a course for 100 undergrads! He’s set it up in a cool way, with just five lectures and a lot of structured group work (that link is to an xml file, for some reason I need to reload it to see it properly formatted), where students meet in groups of five to work on very clear topics. I asked how they manage this, and Anders says three teachers will move between these little groups of students giving advice and seeing how they’re doing. They’re also planning to give feedback to students’ on their assignments along the way using email. Students will get no help with HTML and coding, though there are links to online resources (and frankly, the very basic HTML required isn’t that hard).
I think it’s a brave and wonderful idea and I’m really interested in hearing how it works out. I suspect it might turn out really, really well. As, uh, a head of department in charge of managing resources and stuff, I’m very impressed at how they’ve set it up in a way that shouldn’t over-tax their resources and that places students in charge of their own learning yet supports students throughout. Let’s hope so, anyway.