Monday, August 23, 2010

Welcome to the class!

You should have received some email from us by now, welcoming you to our class, BYU Honors 202 Western Civilization and the Digital World.  The email contains some basic information about our course.  Here is a brief recap:

Technical Expertise
Are you a digital native? Some people think that if you grew up with email and the Internet that somehow you have magical computing abilities. Well, we are assuming you all are comfortable with computers, but that's all. Some of this course is devoted to helping you achieve better digital literacy with various tools that we will be learning in "labs" alongside the historical content. We expect everyone to be willing to try a few digital tools, but you don't need to be a super-geek to profit from this course!

You will not find textbooks at the BYU bookstore for this course. Most of our readings will be found online, or they will be individually chosen by you following our recommendations. You can purchase through Amazon or any other outlet, and can choose whether to get a hardcopy or electronic edition.

Self-directed Learning
This course has a heavy emphasis on self-directed learning. This means that we will introduce core concepts and themes, but expect you to make use of available resources (both online and otherwise) to learn what is outlined in the course learning outcomes. Those outcomes are spelled out on the course syllabus. 

Course Website
We will be using Instructure rather than Blackboard, for our course syllabus / website. We'll have that ready shortly and send you a link to it. The site will include assignments, a wiki, discussion forums, and grades.

The main way that you will be demonstrating your learning during this course will be through posts you make on a personal blog. If you are already a blogger and wish to use your existing blog, that's great. But if you are not, or if you wish to use a separate blog just for this course, then you are encouraged to set up a blog for free through Blogger . This is free and simple to do. We will be providing you additional information about how to blog and how you will be evaluated for your blogging on the course website.

Right now Amazon is offering to students a free Amazon Prime membership for a year. While this is not a requirement, you might consider getting this while you can. This provides free two-day shipping on most products, including textbooks for this or other classes. Regardless of whether you get this service, we do wish for you to have an Amazon account so that you can use their wishlist feature as you browse things that are relevant to our course.

Cell Phones
We assume most of you keep a cell phone pretty handy, and we would like to incorporate a bit of mobile technology into our course. (If you don't have a cell phone or don't wish to be involved, this is not a requirement.) The course website we will send out SMS (text) messages with reminders about readings, assignments, and events. If you choose to make your cell phone number available to others class members, it will make it possible for you to coordinate with one another as we organize into groups for various reasons.

Laptops / Netbooks / Smartphones
We encourage you to bring and use your mobile computing devices in class. It is not required that you have a computer during class, however.