Faculty: Elisa New (English)

Fellow: Emmy Waldman

Professor Elisa New’s “Poetry in the Digital Environment,” co-offered by GSAS and HGSE, was an innovative course offered during the Spring 2016 semester that taught future teachers--be they headed for Higher Education or the K-12 space) how to cope with the digital and hybrid classrooms that they will encounter. The course met each week at the Bok Center to practice a new mode of digital or brick-and-mortar teaching, and each participant worked with the Learning Lab to produce their final projects, which developed in three distinct phases.

Early in the semester, students came into the Media Lab to film a close reading of a single poem in order to practice teaching to a camera in addition to condensing a multi-layered argument about a poem into a two-minute speech. In the second phase of the project, students broke into two groups and each group engaged in a long, freeform discussion of a poem of their choice. The final part of the project grew out of these filmed discussions: students were responsible for editing the film into a coherent narrative and then for compiling a course packet intended for other teachers who, with these combined materials, could present a week’s worth of material, including pre-learning exercises, journaling, in-class discussion and assessment, on each of the two selected poems.

The course demonstrated an effective model of incorporating simple media processes, such as filming individual or group discussions, into the learning environment. Filming the group discussions, in particular, reinforced the role that digital records can play in generating criticism: the low-stakes nature of the conversation permitted students to analyze the poems in collaboration with one another without the pressure of having to advance a predetermined critical argument, while having the capacity to return to the video of the discussions allowed students to later mine those records for the very ideas that became the content of their final projects. In this way, filming the students’ work allowed them to both distill and expand their own criticism.


Media, tools and literacies: video, visual explanation, oral performance, interaction design, web design, active learning

Deliverables & outcomes: 10 seminar sessions, support with student projects, templates for assignments and activities.