Monday, October 31, 2011

What Sappho and Online Learning Have in Common

Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching a f2f workshop on online learning in Clarion, PA.  The class was made up of about 20 professors who teach women's studies courses across Pennsylvania.  It was a great workshop!  One of the topics we spoke about what how when you teach online, you need to think like Sappho.  Don't be stifled by technology as it is.  Instead, reinvent it!  In one of Sappho's most famous fragments, fragment 31, she writes the following:
That man seems to me peer of gods, who sits in thy presence, and hears close to him thy sweet speech

In this poem, she compares the man who gets to sit next to the women she loves to a god.  Now, in Greek poetry before Sappho (most famously in Homer) the only people who were compared to Gods were war heroes.  But, Sappho wasn't talking about war, she was talking about love and she needed a way to embody the emotion she was writing about it.  So, she thought differently and reinvented an existing motif.

When we think about how to use technology to enhance our online classes, we have to think the same way. Not, what is the technology and how is it best used.  Rather, how can I reinvent this technology in order to best use it in my class.