This blog accompanies an Honors Western Civilization 2 course offered during Fall 2010 and Winter 2012 at Brigham Young University.  Colloquially called "Digital Civilization," the class is taught jointly by Dr. Gideon Burton (English) and Dr. Daniel Zappala (Computer Science).

The course description:
Western civilization has been greatly influenced by how we produce and share knowledge. Since the development of the printing press in the 15th century, the printed word has dominated religion, philosophy, science, economics, politics, and education. We are now in the midst of the digital revolution, with online media such as blogs, wikis, social networking, and the web shaping our civilization. In this course we will view western civilization through the lens of the digital revolution, learning both what the past has to say about how we produce and share knowledge, and what our experiences with modern technology lead us to discover about the past. Our readings will pair great works of western civilization with current texts and tools, exploring common themes that include the structure of knowledge, principles of openness and participation, authenticity, identity, privacy, and copyright. Students will become fluent with the concepts and tools needed to be lifelong learners and active participants in a world where technological innovations change rapidly.
The learning outcomes:

  1. History
    Students intelligently and accurately represent periods of western civilization in terms of:
    • prominent themes and ideas 
    • major events 
    • influential people and works
  2. Core Concepts
    Students understand the core concepts of digital civilization and can relate these to history and contemporary society.
  3. Digital Literacy
    Students demonstrate competence in digital literacy via the following methods:
    • ConsumeStudents independently and intelligently seek out, gather, filter, and qualify information sources.
    • CreateStudents use a variety of media to generate both informal or provisional content as well as content more formally produced and published.
    • ConnectStudents share what they consume or create, interact with others both in person and online, and use social media seriously.
  4. Self-Directed Learning
    Students take control of and manage their own learning.
  5. Collaboration
    Students learn to work collaboratively to identify and complete projects that are meaningful to themselves and others.
Please see more about the course at the accompanying wiki.

What you'll see is that this is a very different sort of Western Civilization class, one that actively blends our digital civilization with the history of western civilization.  A few things we use that may be new to students:

  1. The course has a heavy emphasis on self-directed learning. This means that we do not have an extensive assigned reading list.  Instead, we introduce core concepts and themes, but expect students to make use of available resources (both online and otherwise) to achieve the learning outcomes.
  2. The course makes extensive use of emerging media and communication tools.  Rather than writing formal papers, each student maintains a blog for the duration of the class.  The blog allows students to show what they have consumed, but to also create new content and connect to other students and to people with shared interests throughout the world.  Students become conversant with the rich set of digital media tools that are available by completing some digital literacy labs.
  3. The course integrates computing concepts and digital culture into each of the class periods.  We do not assume that students have a technical background.  We aim to provide students the same level of understanding of computing that they would achieve in an introductory Computer Science class for non-majors, combined with regular experiences in digital culture and social media.
We proudly support and encourage Open Educational Resources.

Creative Commons License
Digital Civilization by Gideon Burton and Daniel Zappala is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.