Last semester, inspired by Caleb McDaniel and Tim Burke‘s student-designed courses, I let students design the content of my Death in the Digital Age course. Then I wrote a post about it for EdSurge. Here, a few months later, is the text of that post.

Last semester, I ceded control of class to my students. I didn’t just give them room to speak. I asked them to design the syllabus, the assignments and even the grading rubrics.

As the semester progressed, these students gained experience forging connections among different interdisciplinary fields. By selecting the topics that the class would explore, they built confidence in their own expertise and embraced the uncertainty of using new digital tools to communicate their work.

Why Give Students the Reins?

“But!”—my colleagues asked—“Didn’t the students hate the deconstruction of faculty expertise? How could they be trusted to do rigorous work if they were designing assignments? Wouldn’t they just do the minimum required?”

The class I was teaching, Death in the Digital Age, was totally new for me. It was prompted by my own research questions about the relationships between death, data and ghosts, and a desire to read deeply beyond my own expertise. To …read more

Students designing classes, you say?

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