I first taught Milton and the Seventeenth Century, an undergraduate course, in the Spring semester of 1963. In the Spring of 1998, I created this course Web site. What follows is a legacy description, partially outdated, of my motives in creating a course Web site at all.
In teaching this course, I will encourage students to augment their reading of course texts through using this course Web site. Each semester it becomes more clear that electronic communication methods have the agency to expand the rhetorical styles, the interdisciplinary range, and the pedagogocal interactions of students and faculty. In so extending the of thinking through the medium of hypertext, the potential for an integrated study of a literary period is greatly increased. Combined classroom and virtual experiences make available literally a world of resources and methods.
Use of instructional information on this course Web site, combined with that on the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, and a restricted course newsgroup, affords the academic enterprise -- by which I mean learning and relearning to think, to imagine, to reason -- a greater diversity and multiplicity of interconnections than ever before. On initial use, the variety within the virtual library, which also includes electronic library catalogues, is bewildering. However, used tastefully and thoughtfully, within the order a course can provide, the WWW offers students a multiplicity of materials concerning whose qualities and usefulness they must make individual and collective judgments. These skills of exploration, discovery, and judgment are essential skills that will transfer well beyond course work.
Of course, the most satisfying experience of this experiment will depend upon the curiosity and developing expertise of faculty together with the students who take such a course. Therefore, it is fitting that such experiments in integration, multimedia, and canon reformation occur in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century courses, early modern times when the interactions between students, teachers, texts, and authority were proliferating in complexity and nuance. The result then, as now, was that textuality itself -- the concept of the book in its relation to reality -- was examined and reinvented, and the concept and power of the creative and inquiring individual changed.
Some ideals for using a course Web site
|Students have organized access to a far wider array of course materials, to faculty and students around the country, and to each other than without the WWW |
|Students can work collaboratively with an integrated set of materials and methods that delight and instruct|
|Students and instructor can adjust and expand their usual ways of teaching and learning|
|Students have an opportunity to strike a balance between theoretical and practical course expectations|
|Students and instructor together can assess the benefits and the limits of using a course Web site|
Role of public access and electronic mail to instructor
- Provide feedback and ideas on course web site design and utility
- Contribute ideas for course and course topics
- Request information relevant to course design
- Invited guests may interact with students through our course newsgroup