Course Site

I’d like you to consider posting some or all of the materials for your R1A course to a public blogging platform like WordPress. I make this suggestion for a number of reasons:

  • Creating a course website allows you to present your course as a coherent whole, rather than as an assortment of documents posted to a learning management system.
  • While there are constraints to any platform, university learning management systems tend to be very constricting about issues of design, naming, and even how you can grade student work.
  • It seems to me to make an important statement about the value of teaching as public intellectual work (much like, say, scholarship) when you choose not to hide your materials behind a security firewall.
  • Universities are prone to vacuuming up courses by past employees (and sometimes even current ones) in order to free up space on their learning management systems. You probably have more control over your intellectual property, and offer your students more control over theirs, when your course is hosted on a public platform.

So I urge you to give it a try. Basically, I’m suggesting that, rather than creating a Microsoft Word document that serves as your syllabus, design a WordPress site that does. Since the point of this suggestion is to allow you more control over the design of your course, I hesitate to offer a template. But I am happy to share with you, simply as an example, the WordPress site I built for a first-year writing course, e110sp2016, that I taught this past spring at Delaware.

In designing your course site, I think you’ll want to have some version of the following links, pages, or sections:

  • Official course description: Links to the catalog descriptions of your course, as posted by the university, writing program, and/or your department. This is the About E110 page in my course.
  • Your own plan or overview for your section: A brief prose description of your course, addressed to the students you’ll be working with. This is the About This Section page in my course. Please also see Overview for more thoughts on composing this sort of piece.
  • Writing projects: The core of your course—what you will actually ask students to do as writers. See the pages under Writing in my course, as well as Projects for more thoughts.
  • Schedule: Deadlines, conferences, workshops, etc.
  • Grades: How you will determine final course grades.
  • Polices: Both institutional (e.g., absences, disabilities) and personal (e.g., use of devices in class, late work).
  • Contact and course info.

I’ll ask you this week to choose a WordPress template for your course, and to rough out the main tabs or sections in it. I’ll also ask you to draft a course overview and one of your key writing projects. We will workshop these documents in seminar.

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