The first day of class sets the tone for the entire semester. As an instructor, I strive for creating a sense of community among students. Also, I foster dialogue through the use of case studies examples and problem-posing activities.
In the Spring of 2016, I used a story about a high school student who created an internet meme that ended up in a poster image used by protesters in the Middle East. This story caught their attention and introduced the course topic. In other words, the story provided an example of how digital networks are changing how we live.
After going over the logistical aspects of the course, I asked students to choose a colleague and discuss how the development of new networked technologies affected their lives. Students brought examples such as dating, driving, buying food, etc. This activity prompted them to participate in class discussion and to become more comfortable with each other. Finally, it allowed me to give them feedback and highlight how our course would help them better understand networked societies.
Research on teaching communication (Dannels, 2014) reveals that speaking-to-learn activities increase students’ participation and also their ability to understand course materials. This teaching strategy proved to be effective as students engaged in class discussions throughout the semester.
You can find a complete outline of my first day of class here.
Dannels, D. P. (2014). Eight essential questions teachers ask. Oxford University Press.