Although the Networked and Online Learning Course meets in person only four times throughout the semester, Teachers College students won’t soon forget their hours spent in the Smith Learning Theater. The hybrid course utilizes the project method to explore the social dimensions of online learning. After three weeks of engaging with readings and videos via Rhizr as well as online group collaboration, the cohort of 28 graduate students from around the globe reconvenes under the bright lights of the theater; actors in a highly student-centered educational improvisation.

Professors Gary Natriello and Hui Soo Chae head the company, guiding students through a tour of education from the classroom to the information age where traditional social forms such as classrooms, schools, and libraries are represented in online learning venues and new and emerging social forms such as digital publishing, social networks and social media, adaptive learning technologies, and immersive and interactive environments surface.

The physical space completely transforms from one week to another and, in coordination with boundless architectural and technological capabilities, enables everything from one-on-one work sessions to wide scale teamwork not to mention long distance seminars from remote pioneers in the field of online learning, high production fishbowl dialogues, and even high stakes shark tank presentations where students must persuade would-be investors to back their online learning experiences. Gradually students adopt the role of directors in the space, taking on more teaching responsibilities as their pool of knowledge deepens. And on the last day, the curtains open on an entirely student-taught class.

Music: Bright White by Podington Bear