August 4, 2000

From Gerald R. Lucas

The Jazz Age

The Colored Idea Band of Sonny Clay arrives in Sydney, 1928 - Sam Hood (3461440976).jpg

The summer of 2000 saw the fruition of a collaborative teaching project that a colleague and I undertook to teach ENC 1102. Our classes met in our computer classroom and focused the entire course around a single text: Toni Morrison’s Jazz. This approach will allowed students to achieve and develop firm understandings of this text and allowed a further investigation of the Jazz Age of American culture. Students worked in groups and individually on research and writing in an effort to develop a communal understand and approach to this challenging novel.

This course also incorporated components of distance learning involving a Web-based pedagogical application: WebCT. By using simple applications in this environment, we (teacher and students) built a database of apropos links, used interchange sessions to further develop ideas and work out problems, and offered more variety for different types of learners. This course was one of the first of its kinds offered by the USF English Department.

Since the completion of this collaborative teaching project, I continue to incorporate distance education elements into my classroom. I have moved away from proprietary software, like WebCT, and have instead adopted open-source components, like the excellent enCore database for an educational MOO. I continue to use the Web as an excellent tool for the dissemination of course information, and I will continue to develop other ways of working this resource into my teaching, like the use of forms and other interactive elements.