What Defines the South?

Update: After I scheduled the post yesterday, Karen Cox (@SassyProf) and several others had a lively exchange on Twitter about the topic, especially the place of sweet tea and cornbread. You can find the exchanges in our Twitter streams. I'm teaching the Old South course this semester. This is my second time teaching the course, …

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Research Papers and E-Books

Like a lot of universities, ours has made a push to incorporate tablet technology into the curriculum. Cumberland University actually gives freshmen and nursing students a free iPad (with certain strings attached). One of the arguments for the program was to give students the option of acquiring electronic versions of textbooks at a cheaper cost. …

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MOOCs and the History Classroom

One of my favorite bloggers, Jonathan Rees, has been hammering the MOOC (massive open online course) that he enrolled in. Led by Princeton University history professor Jeremy Adelman, the MOOC is offered by Coursera, one of the leading companies pushing for free courses that are open to anyone. Rees is an outspoken critic of online …

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You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But . . .

Last year, I introduced a new assignment. Students in the U.S. survey were required to meet with me for five minutes during the first two weeks of class. We could talk about any topic, including the class. For a five-minute investment, students earned ten points (out of 600 pts. total in the course). This semester, …

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Clickers in the History Classroom

During our school-wide in-service meeting, my colleague Sarah Pierce made a presentation on clickers in the classroom. I had talked to her previously about observing their use in one of her courses, but our schedules conflicted, and I never made it. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with what Sarah showed us. The …

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Teaching at Your Alma Mater

Twenty years ago, I started my freshman year at Cumberland University. Sixteen years later, I returned to take a faculty position. Teaching at your alma mater can be difficult. Former professors become your colleagues, and you have to overcome the reluctance to challenge or contradict your mentors. You also have to confront suspicions about academic …

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Edutainment vs. Education: A False Dichotomy?

Last September, I wrote this about teaching as performance: I should also point out that performance is no substitute for rigor and quality. Performance in the classroom can encourage enthusiasm about a subject among students, but enthusiasm should not be the most important objective. Performance should be a tool, much like technology, to grab students’ attention in …

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