By Special to The Collegian
The new FILM 2900 Online class designed by Instructor Thomas Anderson adds the Film Program to the long list of programs at GPC that students can now complete fully online. Anderson was previously an entrepreneur who, after operating a media equipment business and a video production company in the ‘80s and ‘90s, made the shift to academia. He was the Department Chair for Media Production at American InterContinental University (AIU), where he developed numerous hybrid classes and taught other instructors how to take their classes online, before joining Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) in 2012.
FILM 2900 is the second fully online class Anderson has developed for GPC; it provides a case study for the steps involved in creating an effective online course, and illustrates some of the hurdles one encounters moving from the classroom to the online environment.
FILM 2900 is a class about Film Genres, the categories or different types of films that we all like to see – from mystery, to romantic comedy, film noir and horror movies. But Anderson initially could not find an acceptable textbook for a one-term class. He also found a lack of agreement among academics and critics about what is a genre and what is really a sub-genre.
The best solution seemed to be to research and develop unique materials for this class. An additional reason to proceed in this way was to support the initiative proposed by GPC Interim President Rob Watts to help address the high costs of textbooks – costs that are a problem for so many students at GPC.
Students who register for online classes at GPC have unique needs. According to Anderson, when designing an online class, it is crucial to balance students’ desire for freedom to study when and where it works for them with the college’s commitment to motivate and connect them to the learning. “We are getting better with each class design at pinpointing how to engage, motivate, and how to support the success of the students,” he said.
Anderson’s class design is built around 13 Learning Modules, each with a weekly discussion forum and a weekly quiz. All the assessments in the class total 1,000 points, making it easy for students to understand how their grades are calculated, encouraging them to regularly participate, and reducing the number of panicked emails from students at mid-term wondering how they are doing.
The weekly discussion forums are worth 15 points, and the weekly quizzes are each worth 15 points. A Midterm Exam and Final Exam are each worth 100 points. The students write four term papers, which are worth 100 points each. The No Show Quiz makes up the final 10 points required to equal exactly 1,000 points.
Each of the 13 Learning Modules is based around one genre, or sub-genre. After research and careful consideration, Anderson chose these for the course: Film Noir and Neo Noir, Gangster Films, Crime Thrillers, Mysteries, Horror Films, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Westerns, War Films, Action Films, Slapstick Comedies, Romantic Comedies, and Coming of Age Films.
The class has a full enrollment of 30 students and is off to a good start. Anderson has already started authoring his next online class, a version of PRSP 1010: Critical Perspectives. Though it will use the identical organizational framework, the new class will be very different in content. Film and Culture will explore how films express and help us understand different cultures around the world.