Back to the Future

“A foolish consistency, Emerson wrote, “is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” So in the hopes of not sounding like a little statesman, I am going to be inconsistent and talk about how certain forms of so-called new media, particularly games, could be a very effective tool in online education… A little speed might spice things up.

I like the idea, as I said on Monday, of keeping my online writing classroom “slow”– that is, of using teaching methods that focus almost exclusively on the written word as opposed to moving or still images. (My website, too, is heavily focused on the written text, for obvious reason.) Among other things, I think visually simple design can help to encourage reflective thinking.

On the other hand, I think that it’s important to recognize that there’s an outside to this interior, reflective space and that for many students a more kinetic approach might be an important supplement to their learning. That’s why, for example, I encourage students to listen to pod-casts about language, such as “A Way With Words.” Language study doesn’t have to be so deadly serious.

The contrast between fast and slow, in other words, might enhance the effectiveness of each. That’s also why I recommend grammar games, such as those available on Quia, as way to improve students’ basic knowledge of English. Games can help to make dull subjects a little more fun. Bibliobouts, which is a game designed to teach research, sounds intriguing for similar reasons.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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