Projects Underway

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Online Global Learning Communities in the Humanities: A Course Model

Celia Easton

Project Team



Tier One

Project Abstract:

SUNY Geneseo, Online Global Learning Communities in the Humanities: A Course Model

COIL model

“Online Global Learning Communities in the Humanities: A Course Model” will support the SUNY Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Center’s online course model with the goal of making it more accessible to faculty in the Humanities. The sample course, “Jane Austen from New York to Bath,” will demonstrate how matching institutional international relationships to course content enhances student relationships within the learning community.

International relationships

SUNY Geneseo has recently formed an exchange relationship with Bath Spa University in Bath, England, providing opportunities for Bath Spa students to study through SUNY and for SUNY students to spend a term or more at Bath Spa. “Jane Austen from New York to Bath” will enroll both British and American students either at Bath Spa or at their domestic institutions, allowing students on site to share information about Bath with students in the United States and allowing students in the United States to share research assignments with Bath students that develop through their analyses of Jane Austen’s texts. SUNY students who are unable to spend a term or year abroad will nevertheless be able to share an international experience through the online course, with an optional week in Bath at spring break.

Why Jane Austen?

Although Bath Spa University offers literature courses on Brontë and Dickens, the curriculum offers no course on Jane Austen. Jane Austen’s connection to Bath is essential. She lived there with her parents and her sister after her father retired and turned his Steventon church living over to one of his sons. Two of Jane Austen’s six complete novels are situated in Bath (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion), and her final, incomplete work, Sanditon, explores the development of the tourist economy in a “spa” town. Many areas of Bath, including the Crescent and the old Roman bath tourist rooms, have changed little since the eighteenth century. Geneseo’s ability to offer a course on Jane Austen that extends beyond the traditional classroom will enhance American students’ study-abroad experience in Bath and will introduce SUNY educational expectations to Bath Spa students, encouraging them to spend a year at a New York state university campus.

Technology and Innovation

Recent technological advances have made global learning communities possible. In particular, Professor Paul Schacht’s IITG-supported 2012 “Digital Humanities” project opens up the new pedagogy of “Social Reading.” Connecting with the CUNY-developed “Commons in a Box,” Geneseo’s Digital Humanities project lays a technical foundation for this globally extended course conversion process. Our interest is in connecting students with each other, breaking down barriers, not isolating them in a digital walled garden. “Online Global Learning Communities in the Humanities: A Course Model” will extend the innovation of Digital Humanities by demonstrating how to create a global course that not only uses the Social Reading model but intentionally celebrates diversity of place. In the Jane Austen courses model, students in Bath bring local history and culture to other class members; but class members elsewhere in the world will be able to draw on their local resources to broaden the course content. Students from Geneseo, for example, live three miles from the town of Avon, one of many flourishing “spa” towns in the nineteenth century. By connecting with students in Bath, local students will gain a greater perspective on their own local history, using cameras, file uploads, blogging, and wiki software.

Project Outcome:

Final report describes the goal of investigating how to break linear reading habits to foster enhanced material reflection through use of technology.