Spring 2003: What's New?
What's new this semester?
Medieval Latin Online was offered for the first time in Fall 2002. Thanks to suggestions from students that semester, I've made a lot of changes to the course. Some of the reading units have been dropped, and some new reading units have been added. Plus there are some general changes to the way the course is organized:
1. The Latin internet. There is a huge wealth of material on the internet that is useful for students working in Latin and studying the Middle Ages, but I found that many students were not previously acquainted with some of the main websites that are out there. So, one of the discussion question options each week will involve writing an assessment of a Latin or Medieval Studies website.
2. English etymology. Last semester, there was an English etymology option in the discussion questions. This proved to be so popular with the students every week, that it's now a regular part of the curriculum, and I've put it together with the vocabulary work for the week.
3. Getting to know each other. Last semester, the students in the class came from a wide range of backgrounds, with very different interests and some really valuable experiences that they brought to the class. I got to know the students individually, but there wasn't a good opportunity for the students to get to know each other as well. So this semester I've created an open-ended "Starting Assumptions" question for each week's reading, where you will get a chance to think about, and share, your starting assumptions about the week's topic, together with the starting assumptions of other students in the class.
4. Discussion board replies. I learned last semester that unless something is part of the grading scheme for the class, it will not happen. Basically, everybody is madly busy (me included!). So while I hoped last semester that students would read each others' responses to the discussion questions and post replies, this didn't happen spontaneously (although a number of students did read everybody's discussion question responses, without posting any replies). This semester, one of the required weekly activities will involve making some replies to the other students' postings to the Discussion Board.
5. Latin composition. Students did an amazing job with the "free" Latin compositions last semester, and I was really impressed by the students' consistently choosing to write in Latin, even though it was just optional. Since it seemed that people really like doing their own free compositions, I've included an original Latin composition assignment in each week's activities.
6. Latin composition draft. Since it seems that very few students had done any Latin composition before, I've set up the due date for assignments written in Latin so that students will have any opportunity to do a re-write of the assignment with no penalty before the weekly unit is over. While almost all the students last semester required some help with their writing in Latin, they were all able to produce really excellent Latin with just a few hints and suggestions about their first draft. We started doing drafts of the composition midway through the semester, and it was helpful for everyone.
7. No weekend deadlines. As an online course, the schedule of activities is very much up to each student: when you do the work each week is largely up to you. Lots of students do their work over the weekend. But there are also some students who take the weekend off or go out of town. So, there are no weekend deadlines for coursework - but if you want to take the weekend to work ahead, that is a great idea! The "week" begins on Tuesday, with various types of assignments due on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday and then on Monday, the last day of the week-long unit.