Faculty Stories: Shane Stroup
Describe what you are trying to accomplish with the specific project or teaching practice featured here.
As a philosopher, particularly when teaching ethics, I strive to “decenter” my students. I do this by challenging some of the longest held traditions/practices throughout Western history. We read thinkers ranging from Plato to Nietzsche to Kant. We do so not to learn simply what they argued/wrote, but more so, to see the wide range of ideals that have helped shape-and continue to shape-the Western/Global consciousness as we speak. In an online format that can be difficult, but I have created lecture videos, with closed captioning, and I am hoping to stream live discussions in the near future.
ROLE OF ACADEMIC TECHNOLOGY
What technology/tools are you using in this project or teaching practice? What is the role of the technology in this project or teaching practice?
I make a lot of use of technology, ranging from creating Open Source texts in Google Docs, recording/editing lecture videos that I then upload to Youtube and embed in my D2L courses, to playing with the new Video Conference tool in D2L to live stream some lectures/content this Summer in my Ethics courses.
Here is a sample video lecture from one of Shane’s Introduction to Philosophy sections:
How does this project or practice influence student learning?
I get a great comments about my lecture videos, but the comment I get more often than not, is that students wish they had taken the course “in house”, because they feel they are missing something in the online format. That is why I am striving to have live streams of my lectures available for those students. Not everyone feels that way, but those that do seem to really desire more interaction. I am hoping live streaming can help bridge that abyss.
What specific student skills are developed through this project or practice?
Philosophy does not necessarily develop “skills”, Logic aside, in the same way say Math or English might. Rather, philosophy helps one learn how to think “differently”. That can be difficult to cultivate in an online environment. That said, I believe live streaming—and in the future podcasting w/students—may be able to overcome some of the limitations inherent in online learning.
What comments have you received from students about this project or practice relative to their learning? Do you have a direct quote from a student or students that addresses this?
I get a lot of comments about how much students like my lecture videos, but it was comments such as this that got me thinking about live streaming.
“As far as recommending this course goes, I would certainly recommend this course, however I would probably recommend that someone takes it in person because I felt that the students in the lesson videos were more challenged than I was in this online course. Shane would constantly ask the students questions in the videos and would try to get answers out of them and if he engaged a student, he would try to keep them going and get more and more information. Now Shane did do this with our class, but in an online course, the student doesn’t necessarily have to respond.”
Here is another comment from Fall 2018:
“This is the first class that I’ve taken that’s completely online and I have to say, it was very well structured and organized. I liked that we were “forced” to report weekly which kept you from falling behind…which I think would be really easy to do in an online class since you’re never physically going to class. I also liked that there was a lecture, reading and discussion each week which allowed for many ways of learning and digesting the information given. Overall, the course was very engaging, more so maybe than even an in person class and I found the content to be very reflective and thought provoking. It was a challenging course in that it was more than just knowing facts and choosing the right multiple choice answer on an exam. It caused you to stop, think, comprehend and formulate your own thoughts and opinions and then engage others in a discussion or write out your reasoning for an exam. It was a nice change of pace. Thanks for a great class!”
How has this project or practice changed the way you teach, or made your teaching better?
Teaching online has made me a better instructor overall I would argue. Being forced to think through how your course is going to appear to someone that is logging in one or twice a week really makes you rethinking everything. Are the readings long enough or too long? Do the lectures match the readings as well as the Exam questions? How can I make my online course more like my traditional courses? The arrows always point toward more communication! Hence, why I am developing podcasts and working on live streaming, to become even better at communicating complex ideas in the 21st Century.
How does this project or practice relate to assessment in your course(s)? How do you assess whether the project or practice has been successful/useful in the above areas – such as impact on student learning?
After I added well thought out lecture videos and developed Open Source readings, I saw a rise in my overall online completion rates. In fact, they are on par with the traditional courses at this point. I am hoping with live streaming I will see even MORE retention and completion in my online courses. Ultimately, I hope to blur the lines between traditional and online learning.