Welcoming 2012, in which I stress out a little and beg for help (a lot)

by LukasO on Flickr.

In typical Martha-fashion, a new semester is about to start and I feel only about 20% prepared. Not only do I have a number of large DTLT projects underway (including the ePortfolio and online learning initiative — both of which I need to write updates about), I’m embarking on teaching a new course in the American studies program at UMW this spring. The class is a sophomore seminar on “Identity and Citizenship in the Digital Age.” I am equally parts excited and terrified. I’m neither a sociologist nor a psychologist nor a political scientist, so I’ve been struggling with the best way to approach the topics of “identity” and “citizenship” while staying honest. In the end, I’ll approach it like I do most everything in my life: like a hack. 🙂

I’ve compiled a list of topics for the class that we’ll be addressing through the semester (on a more-or-less weekly basis). I’ve already got a pretty good bibliography going for each topic, and I’ll be hand-picking pieces for each week. In addition, I’m planning on using Douglas Rushkoff’s Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age.  I think it’ll provide a nice frame for the semester. But, there are a few places where I’m still (not surprisingly) in need of help.

First, theres the issue of assignments. 🙂 The students will be building a Web space, much like in #ds106 and using it to frame and narrate the process of the class. I’m also going to be asking them to do a pre- and post-game analysis of their own digital identity. The first will be due in the first few weeks. The last will be due at the end of the semester. In addition, I’m planning a project for the second half of the semester where each student will have to “embed” themselves in an online community that they’ve never participated in before. I haven’t yet decided, however, what form I want this project to take. They’ll be expected to blog during their research, but I also want them to create some kind of summary presentation, and I’m looking for ideas about what these could be.

Participation will be a BIG part of their grade (at least 30%; maybe 40%), and I’m planning on informally assessing their participation each week based on their blogging, class discussion, and other assignments.

To further frame the class, I’d like a few smaller assignments, and I’d like to eat my own dog food by using the DS106 assignment repository in some way. I’ve been saying for quite some time that I think those assignments are more widely applicable to a range of disciplines, and I’d like to pull a few of them to use in this class. I might try to keep it simple by giving them a list of assignments that they can use and require them to do one a week (around the weekly topic). Or perhaps this is too much?

What other assignments/projects would you recommend? I don’t want to overwhelm them, but I do want them to be writing and creating enough on a regular basis that I can really see their engagement with the material.

The second challenge is building my bibliography. This is where the begging really comes into play. 🙂 I’m looking for any and all suggestions for things to read, watch, explore, and listen to around the following topics:

  • Personal Cyberinfrastructure
  • Who are You Online?
  • Who Owns You Online?
  • Turning back the Clock (This is going to be a look at what the Web, and life around the Web, was like circa 1995)
  • Gender Matters
  • The Digital Divide (Socio-economic issues and the digital age)
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Living and Lying Online
  • The Politics of Participation (politics and activism in the digital age)
  • The Wisdom of the Crowd
  • Subcultures
  • Virtual Crime
  • Fan Culture

I know that seems like an insane numer of topics, but I can’t bring myself to cut any of them. Would you?

If you do have something awesome to contribute to this collection of resources, I’ve created a handy-dandy form on the course site (which is EXTRAORDINARILY nascent). As stuff comes in, I’ll be organizing it and showing it on the site.

Finally, I’ve chosen the tag #di202 for the class, blatantly ripping-off its big and far more powerful brother #ds106. If you want to follow along, that’s the tag to look for.

They’ll be more to come in the next week or so as my thinking solidifies.