Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Super Hero Mania

My 5 year old is addicted to super heroes. From the moment his wee little noggin lifts from the pillow until he collapses in a heap into his bed, he is spinning webs, ironing his cape, or climbing into the General Lee (well, we use a rough definition of super hero around here).

His two favorites (well, today - tomorrow it could switch back to Smokey and the Bandit or the Power Rangers) are Spider man and Superman. After watching Spidey for the 500000 time, I started to compile a comparative analysis in my weary brain. Hmmm....neither one had earthly mothers or fathers, both wore thick glasses, both were geeks, both worked at a newspaper, both had an arch rival, both feature American flags). What does this say about motherhood? What does it say about heroism? Gender? Yikes....I could go on and on and on.

At the moment, I am getting my summer classes ready. I am not required to teach in the summer...I do it because I love it. I can feel the energy rising...summer classes are always good. This summer, I am trying something a little different...these course will be hybrid; they will be taught in real life and in Second Life.

I digress.

Seeing as my brain was already in compare/contrast mode from my super hero analysis, I started to think about what is the same - and what is different - about teaching in RL and in SL.

In real life, these are online courses using WebCT. The students read, answer questions, move on... While there is a place for discussion groups and chats, my students never do it well enough to give me any sort of satisfaction. They post on the discussion board...but they don't answer each other...they don't discuss. In the chat rooms, students cut and paste stuff, but, again, don't share, talk, or grapple. Literature is all about the grapple....

SL allows me to host discussion groups - guided by lecture notes. Opening it up to the larger community will bring in all sorts of voices. Of course, it will also bring in griefers, and that is the beauty of the zapper tazer eject button. I can't wait to hear the voices (and, I must admit, it IS fun to use the eject button, too).

I am sure that all of us have a busy summer ahead, but I hope that some of my fans will consider stopping in for one or two discussions. Who can pass up talking about the Puritans and their role as squelchers of Native American voice? Who can possibly pass up the opportunity to discuss the Christian and Pagan struggle for identity as seen in Beowulf?

Ok, I admit it....I'm drooling.

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