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Starting from Scratch: a Collaborative Approach to First-Year Greek

Kristina A. Meinking

Despite the health of many Classics departments, a number of classicists are the only trained classicist at their institution. One- or two-person programs and departments are nothing new, yet the challenges posed for such individuals and programs continue to mount, as teaching loads, service expectations, and research requirements for tenure and promotion seem to increase. In such programs, when faced with a limited staff and budget, Latin is frequently offered, and its students’ interest cultivated, and ancient Greek is often one of the first language sequences to be cut;,. As a response to this trend, and after more than a decade of success in offering advanced Latin and Greek courses through an intra-institutional model that blends online and face-to-face instruction, the Sunoikisis consortium piloted an elementary Greek language course for AY 2012-13. The result, a tripartite collaboration between the Center for Hellenic Studies curriculum fellow, Rhodes College, and Elon University, demonstrates the success of such a venture, and is a worthwhile indicator of how classicists may work to meet the challenges particular to higher education in the twenty-first century.

Like the other Sunoikisis courses, the elementary Greek sequence runs on a hybrid online model: an organizing professor ‘on the ground’ is the point of contact for enrolled students, and is supported by fellow colleagues who share the work of course preparation and implementation, with an eye toward helping the resident professor offer a genuinely new type of learning experience. Although this new hybrid elementary Greek course is still a pilot program, we have acquired much valuable data about student learning and the effect of diverse pedagogies on student comprehension (given the use of both online technologies and classroom-based approaches), and the ways in which various types of assignments contribute to content mastery.

I will provide an overview of the course as well as highlight individual lessons from its 2012-13 iteration. This exploration of the course will take into account the origins, materials, and anticipated problem areas of the project and the implementation of the program and challenges that arose throughout the two semesters. This model of an elementary Greek sequence offers compelling evidence for the value of blended courses that combine in-person class meetings with those enabled by technology (in this case, Google Hangouts, which allow multiple participants to engage with one another simultaneously). For this reason, I will include in the paper media that showcase the technologies employed in various types of sessions, for example those of the group “hangout” (one or more Elon students with a class at Rhodes) and those that triangulate one “remote” professor, one “local” professor, and the student(s). This opportunity not only to illustrate the types of instruction possible in this kind of learning environment, but also to highlight some of the online resources already in place, will help to clarify the pragmatic aspects of the project. In the last portion of the paper, I will discuss some of the strengths and challenges of this model, and offer suggestions for how we might creatively address some of the problems in the future, with special attention to how we might export this model to other courses in Classics and the humanities more broadly.

Session/Panel Title

Moving toward a (Responsible) Hybrid/Online Greek Major

Session/Paper Number

14.1

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