- Group size: 180 students
- Teaching type: Whole class
- Division: Blavatnik School of Government
- Subject: Public Policy
- Tools: Canvas discussions and video
Traditionally students enrolled on the Masters in Public Policy course receive preparatory reading lists over the summer. Over time these lists have become larger and more cumbersome, to the point where some of the recommended texts do not feature in the course. This can lead to frustration amongst students. The new summer reading and discussions courses is a ‘return to basics’ with a focus on interaction. Students start with a forum in which they are introduced to each other. Every week one faculty member introduces an article with an accompanying video. Videos are short and usually created in one take on mobile devices. They are often informal and give insight into the lives of academics, with one being filmed during a hiking expedition. The articles act as a springboard for students to discuss issues further in forums, and by doing so, get to know their subject matter, lecturers and peers.
The social aspect to this preparatory course helps to create networks which students draw upon later in their studies. The informal style of video is a good introduction to academics in creating content, as not too much is expected in the way of presentation. The forums used work well for asynchronous communication between a globally-dispersed cohort. Overall, it is excellent preparation for what is expected in studies ahead.
Forum activities need to have clear structuring, and students need to know exactly what is expected from them. Constant encouragement from staff is also needed to bolster uptake. Mentoring forums to encourage peer contribution is sometimes a new experience for both students and academics alike and needs to be nurtured carefully to ensure maximum uptake.
Screenshot from the Masters in Public Policy course illustrating an informal approach to the making of videos
- Contributed by: Dr Adam Webster