Teaching Graduate-Level Ancient Greek Online
This paper will describe experiences in leading an online review of
ancient Greek (2013-2014), and in preparing to teach an online graduate seminar on Plato's Symposium (Fall 2014). This seminar is the first course offering in ancient Greek in an established graduate-level distance learning program and represents a unique opportunity for students to do graduate-level work in Greek through an e-learning platform.
The addition of these classes to this distance learning program is a conscious extension of the instructional design of the program that is meant to service a particular group of scholars who have been underrepresented in traditional brick-and-mortar post-baccalaureate programs. The students who enroll in the Master’s and PhD programs in The Classics Distance Learning Program usually hold full-time jobs, mostly as high-school Latin teachers, and live all over the country. The program allows them to continue their classical studies through a rigorous program of online classes. Each class has a synchronous learning schedule with self-paced assignments during the week. Courses in the Fall and Spring are taught completely online, with students and professors meeting weekly for a live class in a virtual classroom. Within a course management system, the professor can add asynchronous components, such as discussion boards, wikis, course reserves, and quizzes/exams. Students can easily submit research papers and receive instructor comments through email. Moreover, this is not a purely online program: students are required to attend on-campus Summer Institutes, and come to the physical campus for certain exams.
As a new addition for Fall 2013, the online Greek review class was structured in a similar format to provide consistency across the e-learning program. The class met once a week for one hour (as it was offered initially as a non-credit course), with regular
attendance of 7-10 students. The class reviewed a manageable unit of grammar each week. Students submitted their weekly homework to a digital dropbox for feedback. As a supplement to in-class review, a short PowerPoint highlighted grammatical points. The platform that the program had already established for distance learning worked seamlessly as a platform for language review as well. The students have been very enthusiastic and grateful for the opportunity to review Greek in anticipation of taking the formal class on the Symposium in Fall 2014.
As various fields have made the transition into distance education and increasingly into mobile learning, even at the M.A. and PhD levels, this distance learning program has been an important part of keeping its department as a whole vital and connected to the field. In particular, the ability to offer online or hybrid Greek courses has become more important, as the field as whole adapts to the changing composition and needs of Classics graduate students. The opportunity for students who need to review and polish their Greek, but are unable to relocate for a more traditional summer institute like those offered at Berkeley or CUNY, may prove to be transformative for both the students and also for the field as a whole.
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