Mid semester my 101 Justice Cluster students are truly excited about their research projects on Hate Crimes and I'm talking about it here because I credit the Ning for some of the energy and enthusiasm. We have one two-hour period in a computer lab each week and students are working in groups and posting their findings. So this blog is in support of Jason's argument that a lot more can be done on line--and I even feel that the holistic grading that I am doing as I read their blogs is actually better--esp at draft stage--than line by line grading I might be tempted to do (put that pen down!) if I had paper copies in hand. That said, I am asking for first drafts this week--on paper so I can get a handle on the whole project and guide them on finer details like citations.
I've also done something new this time around in terms of the assignment itself. We have been reading and discussing The Laramie Project and are using the structure of the play as a template. This means that their primary and secondary research into a particular crime or incident takes the form of dramatic "moments"--which fits nicely because our course is part of a Theatre-Philosophy cluster. This strategy may be a little messy but it seems to be turning "research" (often dreaded) into something they are eager to do. (Link to the assignment on my Ning.)
This same class also did group performances of scenes from Macbeth complete with costumes, lighting, music in the Black Box theatre recently; these were filmed and the intention was to have Dr. X's Shakespeare class review them. Problems arose when the film editor from theatre dept was unable to upload these quickly for reasons I won't go into. This was a lesson to me (and perhaps for us) about the importance of smooth design and execution (and our own control) of a linked activity. Two scenes were erased because the camera (property of theatre dept) was used for something else. I think going forward I will do my own filming even if the quality is inferior. The other reason this is important is that the students need the feedback right after they do the scene--not two weeks later. Dr. X.s students were ready--but I was not able to get the technology up!
Overall at this point however I am totally committed to doing more work online and figuring out how to plan assignments for Fall II and Spring I in such a way that students connect online--they definitely are more engaged in this format and they are writing a whole lot more--and more thoughtfully.