This week my ENGL 1102 students will begin presenting their short research projects. I've used this assignment twice before, but this time there are a few new twists. The project still involves the development of a class-wide knowledge base designed to help students better grasp the context of medieval and early modern culture and society, and is designed to reinforce best credible research practices. But whereas the past two iterations involved a complex of technological platforms and communication modes (oral presentation w/ PowerPoint or Prezi-based visual aids, complementary wiki entries, visceral Twitter feedback) this time I'm trying to streamline the process and experience. Students choose from this list of topics that relate to either Elizabethan or medieval England (as identified in the second tetralogy.)
I spent a lot of time this summer thinking about how to streamline my grading process. I spoke with colleagues, read many Profhacker articles (just search Profhacker by "assessment" and you'll get 101 hits), and looked at my past approaches to embracing a syllabus that expects students to experiment with multimodal forms of composition without having what I consider to be the proper tools for assessing those forms (how the hell DO you properly assess a Google Map?) Sometimes it feels as though I'm marking up a play-text to evaluate a live performance. Not sure if that metaphor works for anyone else, but I'll stick with it for now.
I spent a few hours yesterday working on the Tarlton Project, testing out some theories about Queen's Men touring practices and split troupe touring (not sure if that's actually a phrase, but I like it). I found it extremely cathartic (and a justifiable procrastination technique) to juggle ArcGIS Online, Google spreadsheets, and WordPress and see what I could accomplish in a short time. As I wrote in the blog post, the observations were absolutely preliminary, but helped as I begin to frame my paper for the October Sixteenth Century Society and Conference.