In spring 2017, I served as a teaching assistant for “Fantastic Places, Unhuman Humans,” Brown’s first ever online-only general education course in the humanities. In this gamified course, students follow a humanoid’s curiosity about what it means to be human through the use of literary analysis. In addition to weekly readings, students completed cafes (discussion forums) and quests (close readings, papers, visualizations, or fun assignments!) In addition to the conceptual questions around humanity and nature, the technical skills of close readings and literary analysis, we also wanted students to think about the creative opportunities to engage with literature and express new viewpoints from the readings. Along the way, students had the option to earn skill badges and levels to 1) highlight achievement throughout the course and b) take on new opportunities or challenges.
Here’s what I learned.
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