Logistics for Grassroots History
This page describes what type of course the seminar is and how it is adapted to delivery via the Internet.
What Is a Seminar?
Prof. Isern's thought on this question is shaped both by personal experience in teaching and learning and by the writings of two monumental predecessors in the field, Herbert Baxter Adams and Walter Prescott Webb. A seminar is a company of developing scholars working under the leadership of an established scholar. Participants in a seminar are not just students, they are members, and contributors. In a seminar,
· The members are self-motivated to pursue their studies, from which they contribute knowledge and insights for the benefit of the group.
· The role of the professor is that of guide, counselor, and scholarly model, not font of knowledge.
· All participants are committed to the success not only of themselves but also of their colleagues and of the seminar overall.
These principles are stated here because they embody the spirit of a seminar and the expectations of seminarians. If this is what you want, come on in!
Adapting the Seminar to the Internet
The seminar, as much as any standard form of instruction
in History, is adaptable to the Internet. Yes, something is lost in that we
do not physically assemble at a table to talk, jest, and enlighten one
another. On the other hand, things are gained by using this medium.
Obviously, the Internet takes the seminar to people who otherwise could not
participate. It overcomes the traditional tyranny of distance in life on the
plains. Moreover, this spatial distribution, incurred as a matter of
necessity, itself becomes a virtue. We all enrich one another the more
because we are in different places, researching and writing from different
perspectives. It is a fascination as well as an education to meet, virtually,
with colleagues scattered from Medicine Lodge to
1. The seminar on the Internet is an asynchronic course. Everyone in it is at a different point of progress toward completion. Any new member joins a company of scholars who may be farther along in the course and who can offer encouragement and guidance.
2. The framework for study is provided by this website. It is more than a syllabus; it is the course of study and point of common reference.
3. Work done for the seminar is submitted to colleagues, including me, via the weblog, the Pastime. We all read one another's work and comment on it. The weblog is where community emerges in the seminar. (One exception is the research papers produced for the seminar; these are sent back and forth, student to instructor, preparing them to be posted by the instructor for all to read and comment on, via the weblog.)
Stuff You Need for "Grassroots History"
The technical requirements are nothing unusual. You need
· Routine access to the World Wide Web, because the website is the framework for the seminar.
· An email account, in your own name, so that you can communicate with me and participate in Pastime discussions.
· Microsoft Word, or its equivalent, for word processing. We need to be on the same page for software, because we will be distributing papers to one another as digital files.
What about access to research materials, since this is a research
seminar? Remember the basic scheme of the course—studying the history of the
Virtual Seminar Table – the place to meet your colleagues
Two Important References for Communications in the Seminar
Pastime – the place to talk about your work