Another semester winds to an end. Looking back, how do I think it went? I continue to be thrilled with my online sections of Western Civ, both sprint and semester-length. I require so much more work from online students, its not really fair. The quality of the essays that they have to write on their textbook reading is astounding. Every week I read excellent discussion forum contributions. These vary, of course, as they should but the quality of the work that I read is closer to a 300-level class than a survey. One thing that I noticed this semester was the degree to which they responded to readings on medieval universities and intellectual life. This makes me think that I should record new lectures to burden them with.
My traditional class was amazing. I had a very engaged group; they asked a lot of interesting questions and kept me hopping. Because I had a critical mass of interested students, I brought in the books that I was reading in course of semester. They seemed to appreciate it. A note for the future: the class became substantially more enjoyable after the course drop deadline. I inadvertently stopped taking roll. Maybe a third of the class took the hint and stopped attending.
My concerns about World Civ continue. The vast majority of students simply do too well. Every semester I adjust the criteria in the hope of producing more variation without success. This is really disconcerting; I will be glad not to be teaching it in the spring.
A look towards the future: in the spring, I will be teaching three online and one F2F sections of the second half of Western Civ. I have recast the F2F in the inverted classroom format. The students will read and be tested online, our class meetings will be devoted to discussing sources and reflections on the patterns that they can discern about the time period under study. I am very excited to give this a try.