In this presentation to the Teaching Forum of the Department of Sociology and Crime, Law, and Justice, I emphasize how relinquishing control of assignment topics in a course can open a space for students to take a more active role in their own education.
Relinquish Control, Empower Engagement
The key pedagogical decision I made in structuring my PHIL200 course was not to decide the writing topics on which students would focus during the semester.
Instead, I established a robust blogging rubric that set clear expectations for sustained, substantive writing in public on a co-authored course blog focused on the central question of the course: the nature of Socratic politics.
By allowing students to determine what they wrote and when they wrote it, I was able to empower student engagement on a level I had not previously experienced. Students were able to shape the direction of the discussion in the classroom by writing consistently and well on the blog. This increased our level of trust in one another, and I was able to weave all the content I had hoped to cover and much more into the ongoing discussion that blurred the boundary between the in-class and online community.
Teaching and Learning in Digital Dialogue