Teaching: Plan B

Over the past two weeks I have been putting my “flipped course” plan into action. The week before classes (which started on the 20th) was focused on filling in the details on the “syllabus” and sending annoying emails to students via the Blackboard site asking them to view three videos I posted that went over some of the logistics of the course. I was convinced these annoying emails would result in some drops when the class began, but instead I have gone from initial enrollment of 56 to 64 -- which is the capacity for the way I structured things. First week of classes turned out to be mostly lecturing-as-usual, but the focus was on the course and getting groups organized. Heading into second week, however, I’ve come up against the major snow storm hitting New England tonight and tomorrow. Classes have already been cancelled, but interestingly the flipped course moves forward under what I am dubbing Plan B.
Plan B is actually business-as-usual under the flipped course scenario. Under normal circumstances, tomorrow’s class session would have been focused on the major points laid out in Chapter 1 of the Gitelson/Dudley/Dubnick textbook. There we offer some basic definitions central to the study of politics, and posit the major theme of the text -- that most Americans “make sense” of our political system by relying on myths, beliefs, ideologies as well as facts and reasoning. ]

In addition to reading Chapter 1, students were required to view my “lecture” on that subject which involved viewing three 17—22 minute videos I posted last Wednesday. Central to my video presentation was an elaboration of several “national narratives” dawn from a variety of sources (e.g., the “frontier/cowboy” nation; the “leader of the free world” narrative; the “vulnerable nation’ narrative) which then became the basis for an online discussion forum. That discussion, in turn, was to be the basis for tomorrow’s (now cancelled) classroom activities. Under Plan B, I began to stress the need for more activity in the online discussion, and students seem to be increasingly active over the past few hours as they wait out the storm. In addition, I will have the video lectures for Chapter 2 posted tomorrow to keep up the pace and involvement.

By the time we get to class on Thursday morning, we should be ready to hit the ground running….
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