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March 16, 2020

Taking Your Students on a Tour of YOUR Academic Internet


I'm writing this blog post up in advance of @LTHEchat on March 16 at 4PM my time (Eastern) and 8PM GMT in the U.K. I'm excited to participate, although I'll confess this is a tweetchat that is new to me. I've done some tweetchats, but not this one. I visited the website that they use to support the chat at lthechat.com, and it was both familiar (a blog! a sidebar! some names I recognize!), but also unfamiliar, and therefore a little overwhelming. And that sense of the unfamiliar and overwhelming is definitely what a lot of people are feeling right now as they contemplate moving their classes online.

At the same time, it was also exciting to look at this at the LTHEChat site and explore because I am confident about all the things I can learn online in webspaces like the LTHEChat site. The Internet IS my classroom. I left the traditional classroom behind back in 2002, and with no regrets. I love teaching online (more about my work here: MythFolklore.net), and a big part of my job is just to show students all the spaces online that are full of resources to help them as they learn. Instead of focusing on me at the front of the classroom, I want students to look at the Internet all around them and figure out where/how they can do their best learning in those Internet spaces. 

As faculty, we take for granted the massive amount of knowledge we have about the academic Internet; there are academic spaces we use online all the time, wonderful resources that we can share with our students, all just a click away. 

So I was thinking about this for my chat question:

Q6. What are the best online spaces (digital libraries, museums, archives, online organizations, etc.) where you and your students can continue their learning beyond the classroom?

We cannot be in our classrooms right now, but we can be "in" the Metropolitan Museum of Art or "in" the Hathi Trust Library and on and on. Websites are sites, they are places that we visit, and if we cannot be in our classrooms, where are the places we will go online to keep on learning? 

In fact....... as a general all purpose online course design, I recommend this: send students out into the Internet (you provide a giant map of possible destination spaces where they might choose to go), and then the students come back and share the most valuable things they learned in those spaces. That could happen in your LMS Discussion Board, for example. By sharing what they found, students document their learning, and then they can learn from each other, seeing what each person in the class has brought back from their Internet adventure. You can participate side by side with the students, doing the same thing! Then: repeat. Ad infinitum. You and your students will never run out of things to learn online.

Leading up to the chat, I'll prepare here a list of the spaces I find myself recommending to students again and again in my discipline, which is folklore and mythology. I know from past chats that I'll be rushing to keep up with what people are sharing, but if I prep my own favorite sites here, I'll be ready to add them while the chat is running, while also having them here in a nice list for later reference. 

And my mind is already racing about all the wonderful resources I want to share! :-)

Update. Here are some of the places that I encourage my students to explore in my Mythology-Folklore and Indian Epics courses. I limited myself to just 10... the tip of my Internet iceberg.

Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts by Dan Ashliman. Dan Ashliman is a (now retired) folklorist at the University of Pittsburg, and his website goes back to the early days of the Internet, back in the late 1990s. It's just text, nothing but text... but what texts: he has collected hundreds of folktales organized according to ATU Tale Types. For example: Cinderella ATU Type 510A.


Devdutt.com. This is the website of my favorite mythologist, Devdutt Pattanaik. He is a remarkable writer, and remarkably prolific. I'm able to share so many essays from his site here with my students! I also find lots of material from Devdutt Pattanaik at Twitter too! He is a great artist in addition to being a scholar, and his website has his own illustrations. Have you heard of the god Ganesha? Here's a search of his site for Ganesha.


Sacred Texts Archive. This is also a website from the vintage days of the Internet, also dating back to the late 1990s, with hundreds of full-text books from different cultures around the world, often religious in nature, but also many folklore texts too. It was the vision of John Bruno Hare, who died in 2010, and the website carries on! They have a complete English edition of the Buddhist Jataka tales for example! 


Scroll.in. Scroll is a wonderful online news source with lots of articles about Indian art, music, and storytelling traditions that I can share with my students, showing them the ongoing relevance of the ancient epics in India today. I learn about new items at the Scroll.in Twitter account and reshare those via my class Twitter @OnlineMythIndia. (And just for myself, I learn all kinds of news from India this way, in addition to cultural reporting.)


Crash Course Mythology. I am so lucky that among the many Crash Course video projects, one of them is Crash Course Mythology. What a fabulous collection of videos! My students are huge fans of these videos (I am too!). (I wrote up a tip here about embedding video playlists in a blog post, etc.)



Bhaktivedanta Vedabase. This website abounds in sacred texts of India, many of them available in English translation, including Krishna Dharma's English retellings of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, along with a complete English translation of the  Bhagavata Purana.


Theoi.com. Many of my students are taking a Mythology course because of their interest in Greek mythology, and I am always glad to share this site with them: Theoi means "Gods" in ancient Greek. Yes, the site has annoying ads... but it is also a comprehensive English-language source for all the ancient testimony about the Greek gods, goddesses, and mythological beasts too. Check out the Athena pages (index on left) for example, or the Bestiary (scroll down for the enormous list).


ValmikiRamayan.net. This is a very old website, but it's still going strong, and it's a wonderful resource to share with my students if they are curious to find out about the ancient Sanskrit version of the Ramayana. It has audio, Sanskrit, Romanization, literal translation, and often some commentary. This site is really old, built with frames, but it is still going strong!


#FolkloreThursday. This is a long-running international Twitter chat that happens every week on Thursday, coordinated by the folks at the @FolkloreThurs account. There is a new theme every week, and thousands of people around the world participate every week! I always find wonderful things here every week to bring back to my class.


Maati Baani. This amazing musical duo from India has a YouTube Channel with so many videos that I share with my students; one of my favorites is Rang Rangiya, which features musicians from India and Pakistan making music together, and this wonderful tribute to India's farmers, Saccha Mitr. Their YouTube Channel is a great space to explore because they also have making-of videos, showing how they collaborate with musicians all over India and all over the world to make their videos.



I'm looking forward to the chat on Monday to see what other online spaces people recommend from their own disciplines!





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