From Course Design to Critical Thinking: A Case Study

Lisa E. Bernstein and Richard Schumaker


Technology-based blended, distance and open education, global literature and film, innovative pedagogy, critical thinking, adult education; Web 2.0; multimedia


This paper presents and examines an advanced undergraduate university course project entitled, “Contemporary Global Literature and Film: New Dimensions, New Realities?” in order to establish a unique relationship between the study of literature, incorporation of global perspectives, use of technology, and development of critical thinking in distance learning. Furthermore, both this CATE 2012 paper and the university courses from which it derives are rigorous explorations of the Web as a burgeoning literary medium that presents challenges and opportunities for educators in all disciplines. Such an exploration of the Web is necessary in this type of course because contemporary literature transcends commercial publishing to include self-published texts, blogs, and social media, and thus requires an examination of writing independent of conventional publishing channels. This paper is the first in a three-part sequence that includes a new pedagogical method for global distance learning, a demonstration of the method in action, and the theoretical framework for this method. The present paper begins this multi-year initiative by introducing a pedagogical model for teaching critical thinking online by connecting global texts and multimedia to students’ lives and experiences to create an international, interactive learning community within the course. The second paper will demonstrate how this type of course can be used as a departmental and institutional educational vehicle, through the use of micropublishing. In a third paper, we will communicate the theoretical framework for our course design, grounded in rigorous critical thinking, global perspectives, and new technologies. This triad of papers should be of general interest to distance educators across countries and academic fields.

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