Reworking Courses 2011

The best time to plan next years courses is right after this year’s end and I am already sketching out some revisions to my options for the coming year. Some old assessments are going, some new stuff is in and one course is going in reverse.

The wargame design exercise in Hi2007 is going to have to go because while it was an excellent exercise, it came to dominate the course. It is no lie to say that assessment shapes teaching and the wargame design task proved that. Making the task feasible as a midterm meant that the lecture on wargames had to be in the first week of term. Additionally, covering the operational military history background to the battles which the students were to design games about meant that the section of the course on the “Age of Battles” had to be covered early enough for the students to have some grasp of the development of operational warfare in that period. So next spring, while there will be some work on game design in the course, it won’t be the midterm. This will also allow more time to play games and to devise a midterm which engages more with the course readings.

Hi2007 is also going to be taught backwards. Teaching history courses in reverse chronological order is not a new idea, and in Hi2007 it will allow me to start with contemporary conflicts and explore their roots. So I’m going to start with 4GW, the current war in Libya and the contemporary “Revolution in Military Affairs”and work back from there to the idea of military revolutions in general. Following this path, the students well probably read Williamson Murray before Michael Roberts which used to be the start of the course.

In my International Organisations course I’m going to rest my Lost Continent scenario for a while. I’ve been using this hypothetical continent as a basis for the simulation which is the main assessment in this course for about for or five years now and I’m bored with it.  As a result, I’m not really selling it to the students as an interesting exercise anymore. With the MA class this spring, I did a real world sim for the first time in several years and it worked well. We did the crisis in the Cote d’Ivoire as it happened, which is always risky in a reaching sim but reality did not get too far ahead of us and the students managed to find adequate research materials to support the exercise. We also had a chance to engage with some of the writings on contemporary history, seeking the historical  roots of contemporary issues.   At the moment, I’m thinking of making food security the theme of the simulation – it is different but there seems to be plenty of material on it from several organisations in the UN system, and it is always topical.

2 thoughts on “Reworking Courses 2011”

  1. oh my, mike, i think we need to talk.

    saw a great talk by the ‘designing dublin:learning to learn’ people on thursday, and have been thinking of edugaming, edutainment, various educational ideas.

    seeing this i really think i’d like to sit down with you and have a chat!

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