A New Kind of Great Books Course

Teachers never play favorites, right? We love all our students equally. And all our courses equally, too? Problem is, I’m having far more fun teaching one particular course this semester. It’s a semester-long study of Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.

A little background:

  • This class is coded as a technology course with the state of Georgia. From the beginning, the course has been conducted online: we use VoiceThread, Wikispaces, and YouTube to tell our stories.
  • We are using the book and the National Geographic documentary of the same title to aid our studies.
  • The class is mostly high school seniors.

This might be a “computer” class but this feels more like social studies. I think the difference is that I’m spending an entire semester studying this single book. What with all the history out there, I can’t imagine anyone focusing on this admittedly narrow slice of time (what?! No World War II?).

Guns, Germs, and Steel is just the beginning, I think. This is a world where I work hard to provide my students with authentic experiences. Going forward, I’m imagining a series of courses based on “great books”. My next target may be A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink.

A web 2.0 experience based on a book has precedence: Flat Classroom is based on The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman.

I’m having trouble thinking of a single general technology course I teach whose objectives aren’t met in this new kind of course. (That doesn’t include techie courses like database programming and systems administration which will remain outside this genre.)

What books do you suggest?

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3 thoughts on “A New Kind of Great Books Course

  1. Thanks, Steve! I’m meeting with my school director today to discuss the course for next semester. I’m working on _A Whole New Mind_ by Dan Pink and can already envision lots of web 2.0-ey goodness.

    Here’s my first idea:
    “Keep a design journal” says Pink. Note the good (and bad) design you note each day. I say we snap photos, add notes, and upload them to a flickr photo pool.

  2. Pingback: Awesome Final Projects in Tech & Civ « Megan Golding

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