So, over the last two weeks, the students in this senior seminar on the History of the Information Age have worked with me to fill in the broad outlines of the syllabus. This syllabus, version 2.0, has the discussion topics and the assignments set, though I still need to sit down with the weekly discussion leaders to decide on the readings for the week.
The assignments include a variety of ways that, as groups and as individuals, students will contribute to the class timeline set up using the Simile Timline plugin for WordPress. First they’ll work in groups to create the events that go into the timeline (a process we discussed as a class last Thursday), their other assignments (again, suggested and/or modified by the students) are as follows:
Part one & two – Select one of the following by September 15.
- Actually use an early system of communication to convey information (demonstrated to the class)
- OR describe the process and complications of using such an early system to convey information. (300-500 words, plus sources, posted to your blog)
- OR research and discuss the significance of an information technology in the life of a specific individual before 1950. (300-500 words, plus sources, posted to your blog)
- OR create an infographic with information about an early system of communication from Parts I or II (with sources, posted to your blog)
- Individual project – Value is 10% of course grade
- To avoid overlap, each topic must be submitted for approval by September 15.
Part three – Create your own advertisement/commercial/print ad related to the history of information to be shared. – Group – 10%
Part four – Make a documentary (5-10 minutes) on topic from this period – Group – 15%
- Due Thursday, November 10
Part five – 5% – Help improve the timeline – Aspect must be preapproved before work starts on it.
- A) Work on the overall structure/format/presentation of the timeline.
- B) Pick any point on the timeline to expand on (with research) – Can take form of video, brief, essay, infographic, oral history, etc.
- Individual, unless a case can be made for group work here.
- Due the last day of class, December 8.
As always, questions, comments, and suggestions are welcome. I’m excited to see what projects the students come up with as they begin to explore the concepts of historically located information and communication through a variety of tools.
I’m teaching a new course this semester, a senior seminar on the History of the Information Age. I’ve got a great group of students who are interested in the topic, but also in breaking out of the normal senior readings seminar. I’ve challenged that format in another senior seminar, Adventures in Digital History (2008/2010 iterations), but this class is a bit different. ADH is primarily a project based class, where the process of creating the projects is the entire focus of the course.
For this seminar on the Information Age, I wanted to try something different. I wanted to combine digital history projects with a genuine engagement with scholarly readings and discussions of themes. But I also wanted to engage the students in creating the course itself.
So, in late July/early August I created a rough syllabus (version 0.9) here. It has a rough semester calendar with four broad eras of the “Information Age” — Print (and its predecessors), Early Networked Communication, Broadcasting, and Information in the Digital Age. It includes three books I had the bookstore order and will have the students read over the course of the semester. It includes what I see as the non-negotiable parts of the course:
“Students are expected to attend all classes, read all assigned texts, post regularly to the individual blogs, participate in class, and help lead two weeks of class discussions. Students are also expected to contribute to the creation of a public, digital timeline of developments, events, people in the information age and add materials to it all semester.”
Participation will be worth 40% and blog posts will be worth at least 10%.
Here’s what I don’t know and what I want to figure out with the class over the next 10 days or so.
- I don’t know quite what that timeline will look like yet. I don’t know what will make it on the timeline, how exactly we’ll construct it, what we will add to it and how.
- I don’t know what the other 50% of the graded portion of the course will consist of.
- I imagine some of it will be material that enriches the digital timeline, but I don’t know what that will be yet.
- Some preliminary discussion of ideas on the syllabus comments suggests a student interest in group projects, perhaps video recorded oral histories of aspects of the Information Age.
- Others have discussed the value of infographics for displaying particularly perspective on trends/ideas/concepts.
- It’s also possible that they will include formal or informal presentations of their work as part of the graded portion of the course.
- I don’t know which topics the class will want to focus on and for how long.
- On a related note, I don’t know which readings/texts/images/videos we’ll be using beyond the three core texts to explore the topics the class wants.
- I don’t know if this will work. But I’ve got a group of students who genuinely seem excited by the chance to try, and so I’m excited too.
More to follow.