Had great plans to make the Communication Theory seminar more tech-enabled this year, but no time to make it happen. When I found out that we would have 28 graduate students in the seminar, I kind of went back to the drawing board. 28 students in a very seminary class (i.e., much of it is driven by discussing readings and drawing out central ideas and tensions), can be difficult; there is a lot of opportunity for social loafing.
So I’m trying something I am calling the Extreme Socratic Method. It is customary in graduate courses to have students lead discussion in turns, assigned at the beginning of the course. There are a lot of good reasons for this: it allows each student to take a more in-depth look at one facet of the material, for example. In this class, there will be one discussion leader for each reading, but they will not know who that discussion leader is until 2 minutes before we discuss the material. This way, everyone should be familiar enough with the material to be able to provide a decent summary and raise questions of interest.
That may seem onerous, in that a student never knows when she might be called upon to lead the discussion. On the other hand, this is similar to requiring students to write short response papers for each reading. Anyway, I don’t know how it will turn out, but I promise to provide some feedback (and I’ll invite the participants in the seminar to do the same).