Friday, December 17, 2010

The semester is nearly over.

Across my courses and independent studies I've directed this semester, I've had 32 students complete their work for credit, 8 students have received incomplete marks (most of those should be resolved by the end of January), and 4 have received no credit (but I'm open to changing those if the students make extraordinary efforts independently in the next few weeks). I don't like giving so many incomplete grades, but when you teach adult students online, things happen: mental health issues, caregiving issues, family issues, things on the job, legal problems, deployments to the Middle East or Central Asia, and so forth. Most of those incomplete grades were given to people who turned in great assignments and participated well in discussion boards for more than half the semester, but just had big gaps (mostly toward the end of the semester) when they suddenly stopped posting or submitting assignments.

My total teaching load was light (44 students) because I'm the department chair, and have about 10-20 hours of work each week just in administrative duties and service on various committees. I'm chair of a department with about 220 students (mixed graduate and undergraduate, online and on ground), but only three faculty.

During break I will prepare the online lectures for my new course on struggles for liberty and freedom. I'm taking a community organizing and social work perspective on various social movements, revolutions, rebellions, and political causes in which freedom or liberty were expressed motivating factors. We begin with national revolts against imperial rule (from The Maccabee Revolt, Servile Wars, and Provinces rebelling against Roman Imperial Rule down through the American and French Revolutions, the struggles of 1848, and the emancipation, suffrage, and civil rights movements, to modern rhetoric around freedom and liberty in the Tea Party Movement, and various forms of resistance to tyranny political (China, Cuba, Iran, etc.) economic (anti-globalization movement, resistance to corporate power), and social (movements to empower and liberate persons with disabilities, and the resistance to oppressive language and the anti-political-correctness backlash). My goal is to get about 17 lectures down and recorded for iTunes U. I've got to have this done by the first week of June, so I'll be using most of my "vacation" time to get it done.

- Eric

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