This week’s readings, videos, and practice are very inspiring. I have always been interested in digital pedagogy, but there are so many digital tools out there nowadays, and as a new faculty member, I feel too busy to learn and try all (or many) of them. It’s good to learn from others’ experiences and see what worked for their courses.
I think Hypothesis is an especially powerful tool and Robin DeRosacan made good use of it in her practice of My Open Textbook: Pedagogy and Practice. Currently, I don’t think I have the time, energy, or resources to create an open textbook as she did, but I can definitely take advantage of Hypothesis in my literature courses. In the past, I asked students to post their responses to readings in the discussion forum on Moodle. It worked well, but the discussion often focuses on broader topics. Hypothesis would be great for close readings, since it is so easy to annotate on specific phrases and passages. One of the limitations of hypothesis, though, is that it only works on materials that are available on the web. I am wondering whether there are tools that allow us to add and share comments on PDF files.
I also liked how Catherine Cronin used Twitter in her courses. One of the biggest challenges of teaching Japanese at Kenyon is that we have a very small Japanese speaking community. Students have very few opportunities to be exposed to Japanese language and culture outside the classroom. Social media could be useful to create a space for students to communicate in Japanese with each other and also with others in the world. Last year, I created a Facebook page for each of the Japanese language courses I was teaching, but students’ participation was not mandatory. I thought that some of the students did not or rarely use Facebook, and they may not feel comfortable having their conversations exposed to public, so I did not want to push them too much. After watching Catherine Cronin’s video, I realized that I could discuss with students what kind of social media they prefer to use for the class, and students could have a separate account for the course, or for the Japanese study, if they want to keep their personal and professional identities separate. This fall, I plan to talk to the students at the beginning of the course, and decide on a form of social media together. I will push them a little bit further, requiring everyone to have an account (either using existing ones or creating a new one for the course) and participating in conversations at least once a week. In addition, rather than creating a page for each course, I will create one space for the whole Japanese speaking community at Kenyon, so that students can communicate with those not in their class. Currently, I don’t know good ways of connecting my students with other Japanese speakers on the internet. I would love to hear suggestions about that.