Friday, December 07, 2012

"I'm going to miss this class"

Not as in "I'm going to miss this class, and did we do anything important, and can I have extra credit because my brother's girlfriend's roommate had to go to the airport and my car broke down on the way" but as in having students after the class linger and say this: "I'm going to miss this class and our discussions."

I'm going to miss it, too. I have had good experiences in teaching online courses, but I wonder how much of this semester's students' reaction is due to our being an "embodied class"  as Historiann's Baa Ram U calls it, where we looked at each other when we talked about the literature. I could see their faces, and if they were confused or enthusiastic about a point, I could call on that person or shift gears so that they could speak up.  What's the opposite--a disembodied class? But we all have bodies and lives, don't we, unless we're teaching at Northeast University for the Undead, so don't we need to recognize that their faces tell a story, too?

Figure 1. Undine makes a dramatic point.
In Sunset Boulevard, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) tells Joe Gillis (William Holden), "We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!" In an embodied classroom, you can have dialogue and faces. Maybe someone can promote what we used to call "classes" and now call "embodied classes" by saying that there is "synergistic value added" (or whatever buzzwords business prefers this year) because as an added bonus, you get faces along with your discussion.


Historiann said...

Ha! I love you as Norma Desmond, Undine. I'll be so disappointed if you don't actually look like her in RL, if we ever meet. Until then, I'll just think of Norma when I read you.

Funny coincidence: we had a meeting in our dept. yesterday in which people who design and teach online courses (for the business college, mostly) came to talk to us about how they do it. It seems like most of my colleagues are of the opinion that teaching humanities courses without the humans is probably something we don't want to get into at all, let alone the question of who exactly might teach these courses & the further casualization of labor in our profession.

In any case: I'm glad your F2F students enjoyed your class and appreciated your hard work, and that the feeling was mutual!

undine said...

Well, I am taller and less demented, so the next time you're at ASA, that less-demented person will be me.

I love that phrase--"teaching humanities courses without the humans." I wonder if Michael Berube's recent address on this will have an effect.