DI202, 6 Days and Counting

Well, it’s officially less than one week until classes start, and I’m a little further with preparing for #DI202 (That’s my chosen hashtag for AMST202: Identity and Citizenship in the Digital Age which I’ll be teaching this spring.) Here’s where things stand:

  • I’m holding firm at a whopping SIX students right now. I was up to ten last week which I was pretty excited about, but a with the semester starting up I guess there’s a lot of schedule juggling going on. Maybe I’ll gain a few more before next Tuesday. Hopefully, I won’t lose anymore!
  • I’ve decided to scale back the number of topics for the class. More on this below.
  • I think I’m pretty much set on the overall structure/schedule for the class.
  • I’ve thought a lot more about the specific large and small assignments and work that students will be doing.

Topics & Seminar Discussions

For the first three weeks, I’ll be handling leading class discussion around three specific topics:

  • Personal Cyberinfrastructure and Who Are You Online?
  • Who Owns You Online?
  • Circa 1995 (This is the look back on the early days of the Web.)

After the third week, I’ll be turning the reigns over to the students. During the first week, I’m going to be polling them to pick 6-7 topics that we’ll be exploring for the remainder of the class. I’ll be giving them this list to choose from.

  • 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

To make the choice, they’re each going to have to rank their favorite three or four topics. Then, I’m going to be assigning students to lead the discussion each week about a topic. I’m building a bibliography of readings/videos/websites for each topic, but each student is going to be responsible for coming up with the final collection of “stuff” that we have to review for their topic. (I may intervene if I feel they haven’t covered the topic as thoroughly as I’d like). They’ll have to post that list on their blog a week before their assigned discussion day.

During the discussion day, that student (or group of students — depends on numbers a bit) will be responsible for providing a brief (5-10 minute) frame for the conversation, leading the discussion, and provoking conversation through question for their classmates.

For the last 4-5 weeks of the class, rather than burdening them with leading discussions, I’m going to choose a book that we’ll be reading together and talking about once a week. I’m leaning towards either Rushkoff’s Program or be Programmed or a novel. Perhaps Coupland’s Microserfs or Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. Thoughts, ideas, and suggestion are VERY welcome on this front. 🙂

Technology Roundups

I decided that I want to spend some time in the class exploring and using emerging, Web-based tools and technologies. In part this is to set the stage for the final project (more below), but it’s also because I want them to really understand how they learn to use this new “stuff.” So each week, students will also be responsible for doing a short (10-20 minute) introduction to some Web-based tool or technology. I’ll provide a list for them to choose from at the beginning of the semester, but they can also come up with their own (which I’ll want to approve). We’ll do these technology days on the alternate class meetings each week. After the introduction, I’m going to ask them to give their classmates a “challenge” of something to do/figure out in the tool or technology that they just introduced. Students will have the rest of the class to complete this, and the student leader will act as a resource to help them as they work.

Each student will be responsible for writing (on their blog) a review and introductory tutorial for their chosen tool or technology.

Oh, and I’ll also “model” these for the first three weeks so that students get a sense of what I’m looking for.


There will be three projects for the class

  1. Digital Identity Review: Students will get 3-4 weeks to complete a review of their own online identity and the identity of one other person. I’m looking for volunteers, actually, of people who would be willing to have my students “audit” their digital identity. Ideally, after they’ve done this, I’d like them to interview the person they reviewed and talk about what they found, what was surprising, what was “wrong”, etc. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments below!

    Each student will do a short presentation in class (5 minutes) about this process. They’ll also have to blog the work as their doing it and a final reflection.

  2. Embedded Citizen: Students will get 4-5 weeks to “embed” themselves in some online community. They’ll have to create an identity for themselves, learn about the rules and norms of the group, and participate in the activities of the group. They’ll blog their research as they’re doing it, and they’ll also do a short (5 minute) presentation in class at the end.

    I’m going to give them a list of suggested communities, but I’m also going to leave this open if they have something they’re interested in.

  3. Final Project: I’ve gone round and round on this, and I think want I want to do for this is have the students work collaboratively on building an online community site. They’ll have to come up with an idea, determine their roles and tasks, solicit participants, think through their goals, rules, etc. They, obviously, won’t be able to do it all in the 4-5 weeks I’ll give them, but I think it would be an interesting and fun project. Thoughts?

    Obviously, they’ll be expected to blog about the project throughout, and they will have to make explicit to me (perhaps through a contract or proposal) what each individuals role is going to be in creating the site. They’ll be evaluated on how well they succeed in that role.

Blogging & Other Social Networking

Obviously, they’ll be expected to blog a lot — responses to readings, introductory posts for their individual discussion topics, technology review/tutorials, responses to use of different technologies, research progress, and project progress. I’m also going to require them to maintain a presence on Twitter. Depending on what tools and technologies we cover, I’ll also expect them to at least set up accounts and explore each of those.

Final Exam

There will be some sort of final exam, but it will either be some kind of reflective in-class writing and/or a fun, creative group project that they have to complete in the exam period.

Whew. So, thoughts? Here are specific questions I have for YOU, dear reader:

  1. Am I crazy? Is this too much? Will they hate me?
  2. Do YOU have any readings, videos, websites, etc. that you can suggest around any of the topics I’ve listed above? If so leave them in the comments below!
  3. Would you be willing to let my students review your online digital identity and then talk to you about what they learned?
  4. Do you have a novel suggestion (or other book) that we might read collectively for the last 4-5 weeks of the class?