During the Fall term of 2010, I took part in a student directed seminar entitled ‘Democracy and Development in the Age of the Internet and New Media’ – and it really was unlike any other experience I’d had at UBC.
One of my peers had noticed the lack of classes (in the social sciences departments specifically) on how the internet and new forms of media are effecting societies around the globe. She partnered up with another student and took some time out of the previous spring to get the course approved before working with Prof. Hermida from the UBC Journalism department to put together a syllabus and reading list. He was incredibly knowledgeable on the subject and was able to recommend great articles ranging from cyberterrorism to the role of social media in modern political uprisings.
The real fun started once class began. Groups of 2-3 students were responsible for presenting and leading the discussion on two topics throughout the course. While at times it felt a bit informal as discussions were always supplemented by relevant Youtube videos or TED talks, peppered with interesting facts from wikipedia or tidbits of breaking news on twitter – the informality allowed me to learn in a more organic way than the lecture style I had gotten used to and what I learned has stuck with me a lot longer.
All in all it made for a rapid fire, 3 hour seminar once a week, that I was always looking forward to and sad to complete.