The “course trailer” phenomenon: Fellowship post #2
The purpose of my STELLARNet fellowship is to examine practices undertaken by academics and educators in networked publics. These practices fall under the general heading of “digital scholarship” and these individuals have been called “digital scholars” or “open scholars.”
This past week was quite productive, with both data analysis and writing activities proceeding smoothly. Today’s entry will discuss one of this week’s foci: “course trailers”
The “course trailer” phenomenon refers to the production of a digital artifact (most often a video posted on a video-sharing site such as YouTube) to describe and advertise courses. While faculty members have always promoted their courses (e.g., through departmental listservs), recent initiatives have seen the development of course “teasers” in which faculty attempt to excite students, encourage follow-up, and (perhaps) enrollment. While some course trailers have been developed with university backing, are relatively formal, and have high production values (e.g., as in the case of some Harvard course trailers), the majority that I have seen posted in public were developed by individual faculty members. Even in the case of the Harvard General Education course trailers (see link above), the initiative was inspired by an individual faculty member’s efforts.
The fact that course trailers are conceptualized, developed, and shared by individual faculty members is important. Individual development of course trailers highlights (some) modern faculty members’ take-charge attitude and willingness to act in transparent and public ways. Note that we are not discussing the average faculty member here. We are discussing the early-adopter, the technologically savvy scholar, who is willing to circumvent the institution in order to better conduct the work that s/he was hired to do. This scholar reminds me of the communities of practice literature. In the same way that workers figure out new and improved ways to do their job in the face of organizational obstacles, these modern scholars engage with others in creative and fun ways, promoting their courses and the learning experiences that they are capable of providing. The course trailer is an example of scholars “going public” with their work.
Examples of other course trailers include:
- Alec Couros’ EC&I 831: Social Media and Open Education and Cormac Lawler’s remix for his own course, EDUC 60602: Teaching and Learning with Emerging Technologies.
- Osseo-Asare’s Topics in the History of Medicine
- Evrim Baran’s Social Media in Education
If you’ve come across other course trailers, I’d love to learn about them!