What does it take to build “an ideal” course?
Well, I am still figuring out.
Opportunity knocked on the door as a sessional instructor position for a course on “Religious Myths and Worldviews” and I was elated. My new found passion for teaching found an excellent expression in the form of this course.
This summer course was online, with a number of enrollments till April 2019. And the enrollment cap moved from 100 to 150. I didn’t know summer courses are that popular (and I would later find out that temperamental as well, in terms of undulating enrollment numbers).
I pulled up my socks and began setting up the D2L (that is my university’s preferred interface for e-learning) online teaching shell in wee hours of May – the course scheduled to run in July 2019.
I wanted to do something “different”. I had spent some quality time at the Teaching Institute (TI) on University of Calgary campus and had sat on a course on Online Teaching. I felt quite confident with the teaching excellence badges, and I was sure to take on this task of building a new course based on interactive components for teaching and learning.
I decided to tackle the task on three main levels:
1. Engaging, interactive and informative content. “Worldviews: Cross-cultural perspectives” by Ninian Smart is my choice for the course. The book gives an overview of key theories and a walkthrough for main Worldviews we know of in the westernized world. To this, I want to add non-western perspective that I bring to the discussion.
2. Peer-support and group activities. The learning environment in universities today is isolated and many undergraduate students do not get enough opportunity to interact and critically discuss the topic at hand. Humanities,to me, bridges this gap of lost dialogue. I set up online group discussion in this course to achieve this goal.
3. Practicing an essential skill. It will be a tall statement to say that all students would retain the course material. I want this course to provide some room to practice skills which the students can take beyond the confines of this course or University learning. I appended the part of “peer-review” with this end in view.
Viola! With this scaffolding at hand, I was ready to add components to flesh out a seven-week long (or short) course on Religious Myths and Worldviews!
(More on this real soon)