Beth Dusinberre



This week has been intense! And very helpful indeed. I have loved the combination of thinking about learning and thinking about technology. In this Summer Institute, the discussion derives its core and impetus from thinking about using technology to enhance learning with regard to specific learning goals; this seems to me tremendously valuable, in terms of “backward planning” and thinking about TPACK approaches (which I think stands for Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge). I have also loved the discussions the participants have had each day -- I have learned a ton from hearing what other people do and thinking about ways I might incorporate some of their ideas into my own classes. (I have also been struck by how much eating together forges a sense of community; as one who studies eating and drinking behaviors in antiquity, I have found this aspect of commensality in the Summer Institute particularly fun to observe.) And I would like to try to maintain some sense of community once the SI is over.


The focus of the first few days on Google Apps was really valuable. I had spent this last semester thinking about Google Drive and ways to use it productively in a small undergraduate seminar -- and thought I had a decent grasp of this application. But I learned so much this week! My sense of the opportunities Google Apps afford has exploded, and I am now feeling almost prickling with new bits of ideas and beginnings of thoughts about how I might use them next semester. Moving on to D2L was a real eye-opener for me. I have avoided D2L like the plague in my teaching so far -- but now that I know I can embed my own website into its framework, I am excited by the possibilities it offers. Discussing MOOCs and the ways that social media can be incorporated into a learning environment was also just fascinating -- and all of the video material was utterly new to me. My students are, some of them, highly adept at video work; I’m curious to think about how to incorporate their skills and my newfound bud of knowledge into class. And the library presentation was terrific! I ask a representative from the libraries to come speak to one or both of my classes most semesters, and each time I learn new possibilities for online research and accessibility of information -- Thursday’s presentation on citation management resources, Mendeley and Diigo and Evernote, was wholly new to me and just great. I am snowed by the job our libraries are doing.


Honestly I cannot imagine a better use of my time than this week has afforded, nor a better way to become a better teacher of our students. It is also just grand to meet faculty from across campus and think together about learning goals and ways to meet them. They are so nice! And so interesting, and such dedicated teachers. This is a remarkable endeavor and I am thrilled to have been a part of it.


Building on and implementing what I have learned thanks to FTEP’s Summer Institute, I am planning to try four new projects next fall, two in one class and two in the other. Two are a bit more ambitious and two more reachable: I will start with the easier ones (one in each class).


Certainly to be implemented


CLAS/ARTH 1509: “Trash & Treasure, Temples & Tombs” (300 students, 4-credit Core class)

Learning Goals: I want my students to be able to review their grades throughout the semester as they complete assignments and projects, so that they may assess their progress readily and make adjustments as necessary. I also want to have them turn in their assignments through, so that they may gain the learning and understanding that comes from doing their own work rather than turning in someone else’s under their own name.

Project: I will embed my course website into D2L and use its Gradebook and Dropbox functions.


CLAS/ARTH 4/5269: “Art & Archaeology of the Ancient Near East” (30 students, 3-credit course with undergraduates and graduate students)

Learning Goals: I want the students to begin the semester with a collaborative project outside class, to increase the sense of community and quality of classroom discussions through the rest of the semester. I want them to think seriously and clearly about Orientalist prejudices our society may have now, as we think about scholarship on the Ancient Near East and the ways Orientalism has affected our understanding of the peoples and societies that lived in Mesopotamia in antiquity. I also want to encourage collaborative work on a potentially difficult topic at the beginning of class to start laying out good guidelines for productive interactions around divisive issues.

Project: I will set up a community in Google Plus for our class in the first week of class. I will ask the students to do a week-long project, due at the end of the second week, in which each of them will be required to find one example in the public American media they think demonstrates an Orientalist bias and post it to the website, explaining in the “comment” field what they think the example demonstrates. I will also ask them each to respond to two other posts. This will be a way to get them thinking and interacting with each other about gnarled issues outside class right away and should enrich discussion both in the second week of class and for the remainder of the semester (I expect, based on previous experience of good discussions in the first couple of weeks).


Possibly also to be implemented


CLAS/ARTH 1509: “Trash & Treasure, Temples & Tombs” (300 students, 4-credit Core class)

Learning Goals: Help students learn how to make video if they don’t already know; get students to internalize the connections between what we are learning and their own lives and experiences

Project: I need to think this through more carefully before it is finalized, but I want to ask the students to make a video (to post to YouTube) that takes a concept we have considered in class and works with it in a modern context. Machtkunst? Archaeological site formation processes? Sifting through trash to understand society? Thinking about the role of commensality in creating community? etc. I will be in touch with Dave Underwood for rubrics, help in defining the assignment, and for the students in class as they start their project and need help (also Tim Riggs for student support).


CLAS/ARTH 4/5269: “Art & Archaeology of the Ancient Near East” (30 students, 3-credit course with undergraduates and graduate students)

LEARNING GOALS: Increase student collaboration, both to give them a “real world” experience and to increase the quality of their thinking and their final product

Project: Last time I taught this class, I had the students design a museum exhibit on “King and Kingship in Ancient Mesopotamian Art.” I *loved* this assignment and was very impressed by the students’ work. This time I plan to put the students into groups of three and have them collaborate on the assignment in Google Drive. They will need to learn (and I will help them with this) how to insert a floor plan of their museum, with images of artifacts linked to text documents explaining the artifacts and their importance. They will also insert a map (annotated) and write up chronological and geographical essays on Mesopotamia. I expect the quality of this work will be even better with the students collaborating online in this manner than it had been when they simply worked on it by themselves.


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