TOOC U: Three Tiny Open Online Course Offerings

I’ve been too busy blogging elsewhere to blog here, or even keep up with what’s happening in threads in which I’m involved. “Elsewhere” refers primarily to the blogging I’ve been doing for three of the (eight!) sections I’ve been teaching this semester: Phil 250, a sort of applied ethics course (“Making Moral Decisions”); Phil 380, a course on philosophical issues in criminal justice intended primarily for criminal justice majors headed for the police academy, and pre-law students headed for law school; and Phil 420, a three-student independent study I’m doing on “Islam and the West,” where the primary text is Edward Said’s Orientalism.

I’ve been doing this “blogging for credit” thing for about three years now, but have in the past generally thought it advisable to create a “firewall” between my ordinary blogging and my classroom-blogging. The thought was to “protect” my students’ “privacy,” and ensure that I wasn’t distracted by the intrusions of trolls (or other overly zealous commentators) who might derail what I was doing on the job. I’ve come to re-think that. It’s not that there are no risks to taking down the firewall; it’s that I now regard the risks as relatively low and manageable, and think that there are offsetting gains to be gotten by blog-teaching “out in the open.”

Bluntly put, it seems to me that both the academy and its non-academic observers and critics could use a little exposure to one another. The academy often seems to spend a lot of time and effort demoting the non-academic world to non-existence, or else striving to “protect” our students from it. The non-academic world seems to spend a lot of time confabulating ideologically-driven mythologies about what the academic world is supposedly about.  Too much is lost in the interchange. In any case, since I don’t have the time to do my usual blogging, and have lost my scruples about the need for firewalls between the virtual classroom and what lies beyond it, I figured I’d just throw this idea out there, and see what happened.

So consider this an open invitation to join in any of the conversations, whether in response to me or my students; my students and I could probably benefit from the kick in the ass you give us–and in some cases, the reverse may be true as well. Obviously, I have to focus on my students rather than non-students, but I’ll play that by ear. I’m curious to see what (if anything) comes of the venture.

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