Scandinavian Studies 60 – Introduction to Nordic Cinema

SCAND 60 course screenshot

In this course showcase, Prof. Patrick Wen will share his experience designing a fully asynchronous online course on Nordic cinema based on earlier experiences teaching similar courses in person. The aims of the in-person and online courses remain the same: to offer undergraduates a broad introduction to a lesser-known cinematic tradition while also engaging them in critical thinking and writing.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Employing various pedagogical strategies, such as podcasting, peer review, and blogging, to foster student engagement and build a vibrant learning community.
  • Encouraging students to have informal discussions through podcast activities to increase their engagement and interaction.
  • Effectively managing asynchronous student schedules.
  • Utilizing Bruin Learn to facilitate a successful transition from in-person to asynchronous learning in the Introduction to Nordic Cinema course.

Presenter Bio

Prof. Patrick Wen is a continuing lecturer in Scandinavian within the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies. He teaches courses on film history, modern literature, and also Norwegian language.

Selected Q&A from the Showcase

Given that the films aren’t screened live, do you find that the students do other things to create community when screening them for themselves (chatting, watching over Zoom, etc.)?Students did organize/gather informally to watch together in person and virtually.
How do you grade the peer reviewed blog postings?Canvas has some quirks to assign points. The instructor created a separate assignment to give points.
How often did you or the TAs respond to the students posts or submissions?For a roughly 60-person class, every week TA or instructor responded to individual responses (not a general post to all). The instructor enjoyed responding to students and got “sucked in.”
Are the responses to the blog posts from peers expected to be done within a certain time frame? Or at any time? If a student did not complete the peer review/response, how was that handled?For asynchronous work, it was important to keep students on the same page re: submissions. (Some wanted to do things early, others wanted to wait right up til the deadline.) This created a peer review issue because if a student posts early, they have to wait for other students to post to complete their peer review.

The instructor set expectations about what students could do in advance, but for back-and-forth type of activities–like blog posts–students need to complete tasks more “at deadline.”

This was a learning curve!

Were rubrics used for podcasts/blog posts?A rubric was used for the blog post/podcast (3 points total), as well as for the peer review portion of the blog post assignment (2 points total). The instructor explained this as a two-part assignment.
Did you use the podcast feature in Bruin Learn discussions for the Week 5 Podcast Postings? (And….how does that work? I’ve never known…)Students either recorded on Zoom or just created an audio file. The instructor provided instructions on how to do this. It was simple because students had already been using the discussion boards in Canvas.
Was there some buildup or scaffolding done for the podcasts? Creating an outline or talking points?The students were given prompts, pretty similar to the ones for the blog postings – but more designed for conversation (between two students).
Can you talk a little bit about students’ choices for the projects – how many of them chose a paper vs. a group video assignment? And what kinds of video assignments did they create?Video assignments took different forms depending on prompts chosen. Often they were borne of blog postings – that got them thinking about something that they wanted to fully develop in a longer project. Often the videos were powerpoint-style presentations that they may have written about. In group video projects, they were interacting, but in a more formal way than in the podcast – a thesis, evidence, etc.
What do you see as next steps or enhancements for the course?Changing up the syllabus, but keeping the podcast/video presentation options open for the students. How can more of this be incorporated, is a question. Also, thinking about adding more informal conversations, like Patrick’s informal conversation with a colleague working on a book about Ingmar Bergman. (Not long – but this would bring in other voices)
What is the demographic of the course – do they already have film studies/Scandinavian studies knowledge going in?For the most part, the students don’t have knowledge of Scandinavian studies going in (readings are in English, films subtitled). Some students do have this knowledge/background, so it’s a nice mix. Tendency towards older students (fourth years) taking and appreciating the course! Maybe this is specifically because it’s an online class and that’s what this group wants.
How do you think the quality of the blog writing compares to the written papers?More polished than expected. Peer reviews in particular felt like a conversation.
Do you know if students ever continue blogging after your class?A few students in particular – avid film buffs! Some continue other forms of film writing, not necessarily blogging.
Is there a difference between blogging on Bruin Learn and blogging on WordPress (for example)?Technical differences yes – WordPress/others are third party sites and students will need to create logons for them. (They are also public, which can be an issue for students.) They may afford more for creativity/incorporating media, but using BL Discussions keeps everything in Bruin Learn (and you can still add images, videos, links).
Do you think the sporadic grading positively contributed to increased instructor/social presence?Aim – students should feel like the TA and the instructor were both engaged. Responding to the posts (not necessarily on time) should impart that he was engaging with the students, reading what they were writing. He does think this was a positive thing!

This Google Doc contains the comments, questions and answers collected during the showcase.