Developing Alternative Research Assignments with Students and Faculty

Kathleen DeLaurenti looks at different options available through technology which can change how writing assignments are completed. She refers to a Music of the Civil War class where they completed alternative research assignments. There wasn’t a central learning portal so they developed an online bibliography where students could collect links and get feedback and also used a wiki to support the writing.

For the Civil War assignment, I focused on helping the students get started using the technology, but also on how to evaluate websites. Website evaluation was a significant part of the Worlds of Music project as well, but I also played a greater role in meeting with the students. Each group was required to sign up for a 45 minute meeting with me to make sure they were comfortable with the technology, but also to talk about the research resources and strategies they would need for the assignment. In addition to introducing them to key resources in ethnomusicology, we talked about how to narrow their topics (one wiki page in one semester certainly wouldn’t represent all of the music of China!) and how to present this material in the context of a wiki. For example, using slideshows if they built image collections rather than cluttering up their webpage with so many images it was confusing to other readers.

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