Published: July 23, 2013

Kathleen RyanI will be teaching an online History of Documentary course this summer. It is the first time I've taught an online course and want to make sure to be able to use the technology appropriately to engage students and spur online discussions. For example, in the traditional classroom, one can watch a film and then create a facilitated discussion on the film's aesthetics, themes, etc. But that face-to-face conversation becomes more difficult in an online environment.

I'm initially thinking a combination of social media, online discussion boards and perhaps even remixing of films can help to engage students in the course. But I'm also sure that there are numerous other options which I haven't yet considered.

Problem: Teaching an online course vs. a traditional classroom course
Changes over time: This is a new problem for me, but it presents interesting challenges because while I've taught history courses in the classroom, I have yet to to teach it online. For me these classroom courses are a combination of lectures, looking at media artifacts and small discussion groups. This will be changed in an online environment.
Factors that make it compelling now: The course is scheduled to run this summer. I need to have an engaging lesson plan for both graduate and undergrad students by that point. There is also a chance that if the students are not appropriately engaged for the medium that they will have lesser learning outcomes than in the traditional classroom.
Implications for not solving or addressing it: A bad class, poor learning outcomes, the class not be offered in the same format in the future.