Braziller, Amy Howell, Chris
Name: Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council Publisher: National Collegiate Honors Council Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2002 National Collegiate Honors Council ISSN:1559-0151
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
In the spring of 2001, an Introduction to Literature course was
integrated with a Western Civilization II course, creating an honors
learning community taught by two full-time Red Rocks Community College
instructors. Of the eighteen students enrolled, approximately half were
in the honors program. The hybrid course met twice a week for 2 1/2
classroom hours total (the typical hours for a traditional class); other
course work was completed online.
The hybrid learning community presented a wonderful opportunity to
utilize technology to enhance this unusual learning environment. The
strength of the community turned out to be online discussions using
WebCT, an online course delivery system. Student participation was
extremely high, with over 50% of the class registering over 1,000 posts
each. More important than quantity was the quality of discourse.
Students embraced online anonymity to dialectically discuss
controversial topics with deeper levels of analysis than found in
traditional classroom discussions. Additionally, students broke out of
old cliques and formed new online intellectual frie friendships.
Beyond branching into new groups and forging new alliances,
communication levels transcended the typically short answers of the
classroom environment. Smart responses, critical thinking, questioning,
and integrating the learning environments characterized the online
discussion area. Strong class communication is illustrated through the
Please read Blake's verse "Mock on Mock on Voltaire
Rousseau." Blake is attacking the Enlightenment and could be seen
as representing Romanticism of the 19th century. In verse or in modern
English short answer form, respond as if you were Rousseau or Voltaire
defending against Blake's blistering attack.
Students leapt to the challenge and exceeded the instructors'
expectations with thoughtful responses including:
mock on ... mock on? be still, i say blake, you are a bore for you
would exalt the very superstition you do scorn take stand, say i and use
reason in all you think and do not expect an Unseen Eye to keep watch
over you ~Voltaire
Regardless of the question's complexity, students discovered
connections between literature and history, responding thoughtfully and
articulately in ways not always present in the in-class discussions.
Not only did student responses lend themselves to meaningful
discourse; students also used technology to take over the learning
environment. Questions and answers were no longer consistently directed
toward the instructors; students often spoke directly to each other,
pushing classmates to critically examine topics. Student online postings
asked others to explain, clarify, and reply to specific inquiry.
Technology use in education is a contingent proposition. Its
successful implementation depends upon the instructors, the students,
and the course content. In our case study, online discussions greatly
enhanced the honors learning community and were, in turn, greatly
enhanced by the quality of the learning environment.
The authors can be reached at:
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights