Establishing Epic Heroes: Narrative in Online Course Design
Concurrent Session 8
Every student is the hero of their own journey. Whether you’re a wise elder, a trickster, or a threshold guardian, you can shape an epic journey for your students that honors and rewards their quests for knowledge. Together we will explore new lands, meet new allies, and defeat evil.
Every educational experience is a journey towards knowledge. Carrying their prior knowledge and experiences like so many badges on a vest, our students set out to answer the call to adventure. Along the path they meet friends---the like-minded class-mate on their own journey---and foes---gatekeepers, tricksters, and that one overzealous guy from the bursar’s office.
Is the instructor a ‘Wise Elder’ providing key knowledge integral to the hero’s success? Or is the instructor a ‘Threshold Guardian’ testing the hero before they progress through their challenge? The unexamined difference between the instructor’s intended role and the student’s perception can throw up new barriers in the student’s path.
But the road to knowledge doesn’t end when the student overcomes the ordeal, slaying the essay with unprecedented insight. What’s the student’s reward? How do we structure the learning experience so that the student can share their new knowledge, understand its importance and implications for their own journey, and integrate it into their larger, unending life quests? These narrative frameworks can be applied on multiple scales, from the individual lesson to the course and even to the curriculum for a full degree.
In this ‘Conversations not Presentations’ session, we will discuss the narratives that we already incorporate into our courses and brainstorm new narratives to energize our teaching and recenter our students. Participants will be encouraged to systematically analyze their own course narratives using the Monomyth framework developed by the presenters. How do we honor the knowledge the students bring into our courses? How do we both mentor and challenge students in authentic ways? After students overcome the ordeals of the course, how are they encouraged to reflect on the importance and implications of their new knowledge? In analyzing their courses, participants will identify both strengths and holes in their course designs.
Join us on this quest and together we will explore new lands, meet new allies, gain knowledge, and make plans for celebratory libations to commemorate the journey.