I've mentioned before that I am in the process of putting one of my courses, Understanding Vietnam, entirely online for the coming Summer Session. It has been a frustrating & difficult process so far, though I think I am about to break through into understanding. Because I am used to the continuous scroll of blogging, I have found creating discrete "learning units" counter-intuitive. Beyond habit, though, I think the two approaches make different assumptions about the nature of learning. In the end, I'm just not convinced that learning can be "unitized" in the way that Blackboard demands without a loss of the essentially improvisational nature of teaching & learning. There is a sense in which, once I have loaded all the units into the course, I have finished teaching it. (That's one reason I'm taking such trouble to get the structure right.) Once the course is loaded into the system, all I have to do is sit back & watch the students take it unit by unit like so many pills. Of course, I monitor their progress through the material & ultimately assign grades. The very language in which I have written the last couple of sentences reveals, I think, the questionable philosophical assumptions on which the software is based. So why am I doing it? Because I think it's inevitable that we will move some of our courses online & I want to know how to do it. Because, by going through this process, I will have earned the right to suggest other systems, other approaches. Because I'm interested in whether the whole distance learning thing can be done legitimately. Actually, I think it can be--I'm just not sure how. I'm pretty sure the way its currently being done in the for-profit sector is a crock. Well, time to walk the dogs, then get back inside the belly of the Blackboard beast.