Feb 3, 2015

The Oplerno Class Has Started!

The first section of the long-awaited online course Existentialist Philosophy and Literature -- offered for credit with Oplerno -- got started earlier this week!  I'm quite excited about it -- it's a small section this time around, but with some very interested, interesting, and dedicated students, with whom I've already started meeting through videoconference sessions (using a tool called BigBlueButton).

This week, we're going through all of the preliminaries, working out any kinks in the technology or confusions about the class structure.  Come Sunday, though, we begin studying our first Existentialist thinker -- Soren Kierkegaard -- we'll focus on a short essay, "The Crowd Is Untruth," and then go through his classic work, Fear and Trembling.

After that, it's Dostoyevsky, and then Nietzsche, and then. . . .  well, I've posted previously who else  we'll be poring over and grappling with, so no sense rehashing that here.  I will mention, though, that, as the course proceeds, I'm going to be doing a bit of writing myself about some of the classic, definitive themes that characterize Existentialism as a movement of ideas and an approach to a thoughtful and committed life.  Those will be written as material for the ongoing class, but I'll be posting some of those essays here as well, for the general public of those interested in Existentialist thought.  I may do some additional writing as well, reflecting upon the class itself as it proceeds over the next 12 weeks.

In any case, for me this is the pilot run of an actual college class I've designed and that I get to teach with a new educational institution (Oplerno), a different set of educational tools (Canvas and BigBlueButton), with materials I've developed specifically for this course.  It's a real switch from the other online classes I've taught and still teach, in which I do have quite a bit of academic freedom, but in which I am quite literally "working for the Man," taking on sections packed with students (sometimes as many as 30) who are doling out big bucks to the college that hosts the classes, a trickle of which gets diverted off to us professors!  So, that's pretty exciting as well, getting to take the knowledge, content, and skills I've built up over these years and using them in a much more independent way to possibly even earn a living at this!

If this class goes as expected, i.e. well enough, I'll be offering another section of it starting in early Summer, most likely in mid-June, which means it will run through to early September.  And then, I'll offer another section of it during the regular Fall semester.  But those months are, at this time, rather far off -- for the present, I've got to concentrate on the present course -- rereading the texts, preparing for some pretty intensive discussion sessions, and building a few more resources that I want to provide to my students. . . .

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