This Is the Dawning of the Age of the Online Course: Reimagining Introduction to Theatre
Since its 2015 pilot, Florida State University’s fully online Introduction to Theatre for Non-Majors (THE2000) has become a poster-child for FSU’s respected distance-learning programs. Our case study offers the dual perspectives of co-designers Elizabeth Osborne, professor of THE2000, and Shelby Lunderman, teaching assistant. In this article, we outline the pedagogical goals and administrative details of THE2000, then focus our experiences on the day-to-day running of this large, general education course by delving into two major areas: the culminating course assignment (a.k.a., the Outreach Project) and the discussion boards. In so doing, we use our failures and successes to frame best practices for others charged with reimagining Introduction to Theatre courses in an online format.
Our article explores questions of pedagogical framing, daily experiences, and practical issues of course creation. How might we balance the communal liveness and ephemerality of theatre with the solitary and fixed nature of an online course? How can we continue to challenge students to think critically and grow to appreciate and engage with cultural diversity? How can we build community and compassion in the virtual classroom? How can technology enliven the course? And, as a much larger goal, how might this course demonstrate to the university administration that theatre is a unique and vital component of the liberal studies core and higher education as a whole?
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