#REL100: Tweets, Blogs, and You

By Michael J. Altman

The best thing about teaching your own course as a graduate student is the freedom to experiment. There's great faculty to get advice from, you're only teaching one section (at least in my case), and you have the solace of knowing that whatever horrible course reviews you get will not show up in your tenure file. So, with that in mind, I decided to try and open up my REL 100 Introduction to Religion: Christian and Hindu Traditions to the outside world through the power of social media. Our class of roughly thirty five students is running a blog on religion and culture and also using twitter to conduct class discussion open to anyone who cares to pay attention.

Readers of this blog might find our class blog and our Twitter discussion (#rel100) interesting as half of the course (the Christian half) comes from monographs in American religious history. We'll be starting with Marie Griffith's Born Again Bodies at the end of this week and then go on to read Robert Orsi's Thank You St. Jude and Wallace Best's Passionately Human, No Less Divine. Each of these three texts will be paired with a book on Hinduism in India or the diaspora on similar themes. (You can find the whole syllabus here.)

So, this is my formal invitation to RiAH readers and contributors to please stop by our blog and leave comments or, if you do the whole Twitter thing (I'm looking at you @pharvey61 and @kelly_j_baker), keep an eye on our stream. I have told the students that we will be writing for a public audience and engaging in the discussion of religion in the public sphere. To do this successfully we need a public. So, please, be our public.

Ed Blum and Kevin Schultz have done a great job of opening up the "back of the house" in their U.S. history survey by blogging about their syllabai and lectures. I think of this class as doing the reverse and opening up the "front of the house." It's also one giant experiment in pedagogy and social media. As an experiment it has already had its ups and downs but, nonetheless, we'd love for you to join us.


Paul Harvey said…
I'ma follow #rel100 -- but it's a hashtag, so you can't really "follow" except by searching the hashtag separately, correct? Pls. fill me in on how this gosh-darn Twitter thing works.
Mike said…
Paul, the URL in the link I included will take you to the search results without having to search. You can also save your searches on Twitter so it will always be right there. If you want to get really fancy you can plug that URL into an RSS reader like Google Reader and get #rel100 delivered right to your door.

Thanks for hanging out with us!
Paul Harvey said…
i just bookmarked the link, that is easiest and works for me.
Brent Baxter said…
Mike, you are close in saying that one can put the URL into a RSS reader to see the feed. Twitter has been busy redesigning the site, and RSS appears to be low on Twitter's priority as it is hard to get a feed for searches these days. The URL you need for the search feed here.

I'll be following, and I look forward to the conversation.

Mike said…
Thanks, Brent. I also found this post on Profhacker about Twitter and RSS. Glad you'll be following.