This deserves an upvote. Two University of South Florida professors have set up two courses on the University of Reddit, an open-forum educational platform popularized by the social-news site Reddit.
Reddit is an outstanding resource for catching up on news, cultural developments and (let’s not ignore this) popular internet humor and memes. The University of Reddit began as a concept that educationally oriented Redditors began to popularize, blossoming from an initial sub-thread into a full-blown website. The site has nearly 60,000 users who participate in a number of classes that range from the traditional (Fine Art Theory 101) to the niche (Beginning to Knit: The Basics) to the geeky (Redstone 101: Using Redstone in Minecraft for Beginners).
Instructors Philip Bishop and K. Edward Renner aim to tap into the growing popularity of the site with two new classes. Bishop’s philosophy course is called “Arts and Humanities: What Does It Mean to Live Well?” and Renner’s class is “Forums for a Future,” a social science course focusing on sustainability. Both courses are available to USF students and will be taught on campus and include in-person lectures, but the course content is all available online for anyone who wants to participate.
Bishop will offer video lectures during his course and will offer a digital textbook through Google Docs. Renner is offering his course content through iTunes U. Once a student obtains the course materials, they can follow along with the weekly lecture on the University of Reddit threads. In anticipation of the class’ formal opening, Bishop posted a “Test of Virtues” assignment on Google Docs and asked each student to answer personal questions about themselves. Students commented with a link to their own Google Doc responses. (I spent some time reading through the 55 fascinating comments made on the reddit thread.)
In a Chronicle of Higher Education article, Bishop commented on the opportunities of providing their course free online. “What my students get is a global perspective on this material,” he said. And because University of South Florida students are also participating online in addition to the in-person lectures, Bishop says that the Reddit students will benefit from the USF students posting content on the threads.
In this sense, the students become teachers as well. The USF students become the conduits through which the Reddit students can participate in the classroom discussions. This is a fascinating example of the marriage between internet culture and education.