Smith’s Religion Classes Adopting Interactive, Online Components

Brian SmithReligion is a course of study considered to be as analog-friendly as any in the humanities, but Brian Smith, professor of religion and the Charles and Joan Van Zoeren Chair in Religion, Ethics, and Values, is taking advantage of Skype and other web-based technologies to enhance his students’ classroom experience.

Smith said, “In early December my class in the “History of Christian Theology and Ethics” had a 45-minute Skype conversation with a class on “Contemporary Christianity” at York St. John’s University in the United Kingdom.” Smith’s students answered questions from the British students about current trends in Christianity in the United States. In turn, the Ripon College students were able to ask the British students about modern Christianity in the U.K. “It was most stimulating and informative,” said Smith, “and the UK professor and I plan to do more class conversations via Skype this coming semester on contemporary trends in religion on each side of the Atlantic.”

Smith also says that his “Ethics and International Affairs” class Skyped with Drew Davis ’07 in early December. Davis works at the White House in foreign policy analysis.

Smith is also exploring the possibility of employing a “flipped classroom,” and has worked with Ripon College ITS to video record a few brief lectures, post them online, and then working face-to-face with students on assignments in his class.


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