Podcasting and Blogging the Liberal Arts

A Liberal Arts Education is committed to cultivating habits of thinking and acting capable of responding to the world in ways that open new possibilities for human community.  It is oriented in part by what may be called the reading life and the writing life.

The reading life is animated by an attempt to enter into dialogue with the ideas, thoughts and actions of the past and present.  
The writing life is animated by an attempt to contribute to the dialogue by synthesizing, criticizing and publicizing ideas, thoughts and actions capable of transforming the future.
Technology can play a powerful role in a Liberal Arts education by cultivating the skills associated with the reading and writing life.  Here are some examples of how I have sought to mobilize technology to support the Liberal Arts education.
Podcasting the Reading Life
The Assignment
  • Locate an academic secondary source that presents an interpretation of the assigned section of Plato’s Gorgias. Produce a podcast that summarizes the interpretation.
An Example
  • Stephanie Marek’s podcast on the Gorgias with Casey Cox.
Expanding the Reading Life
  • Find a picture on the web or take a picture that grows out of your experience reading the Oedipous trilogy.
    Post the picture to your blog and write a post that explains how the picture relates to your experience with these texts. Present then a “reading” of the picture.

An Example

Blogging the Writing Life
Students in my PHIL204: 20th Century Philosophy course were required to blog each week about the readings we had done.  The criteria for assessment I provided set out that these posts must:
Demonstrate familiarity with the readings

  1. Be well organized from beginning to end
  2. Be well written and edited
  3. Articulate original ideas
  4. Reflect thoughtfully and critically on the texts

An Example


Expanding the Writing Life
One of the goals in using blogs in my philosophy courses was to provide a forum by which philosophical ideas could be brought into more intimate contact with the wider world of politics and culture.
David Klatt did this with his excellent final paper project, An Immigrant Songwriter and Dewey on Language and Citizenship, in which he critically engages a Spanish translation and performance of Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” to ask questions about the meaning and nature of citizenship.
I managed to do this in Myth, Tragedy, Politics with posts on Hesiod’s Theogony and how it related to the protests by Monks in Burma; in 20th Century Philosophy, I was able to present Merleau-Ponty and Dewey’s philosophy of art to bear upon works by a variety of artists like Cézanne, Klee and others.
For more information on my use of technology in the classroom, see my story on the TLT Website.

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