Originally published March 16, 2020.
Due to concerns about COVID-19, our university recently gave me three hours to move our entire class online for the next three to sixteen weeks. I am providing these instructions for a seamless, uninterrupted course experience. I have never taught online before, but with the help of our men’s field hockey coach turned online-learning coordinator, I have developed a virtual experience that matches the intimacy and rigor we cultivated in our Philosophy of Face-to-Face Discourse In the Public Square class.
We will use AOL Instant Messenger to recreate our passionate in-class discussions. I assume everyone has an AIM account, so please send out your usernames. Mine is HangingChad2000. For fun, I encourage everyone to include their favorite Donnie Darko quote as their away message.
Content: I look in the camera and say, “Is this on? Is this on? Oh, I think it’s on! Wait, it’s not on! No, it is on! How do I share my screen?! I don’t think this is on.”
Takeaways: The camera was on.
Content: I rhapsodize beautifully about Habermasian theories of the public square as they apply in times of pandemic before I realize that the camera was not on.
Takeaways: I don’t remember what I said, but it felt like a pretty amazing lecture. You would have loved it.
Content: I provide an introduction to Amartya Sen’s work while my cat repeatedly sticks her butt into the camera and then knocks the laptop to the floor.
Takeaways: My laptop is now glitching after falling on the ground. This should not affect our course experience.
Content: A YouTube clip of Bill and Ted meeting Socrates.
Takeaways: “All we are is dust in the wind, dude.”
Please respond to the following discussion questions in our official course ICQ chatroom (formerly my Star Trek: Deep Space 9-fan chatroom. Please ignore my lengthy posts about why Jadzia Dax should have never married Commander Worf. I can’t figure out how to delete those).
Question 1: Which philosopher provides the more compelling revision of the idea of the public square: Nancy Fraser or Michael Warner?
Question 2: I don’t know, maybe write something about what Hannah Arendt would think of Facebook? Or should it be Instagram? What do you kids use these days?
Question 3: Who would get more swipe rights on Tinder: Hegel or Heidegger? Please provide at least three quotes and one image to defend your answer.
I will email a Word 93 version of the exam to you. When you open it, the formatting will be all messed up. Please print out the 27-page exam, complete it in blue or black ink, then take it to Kinkos and have them fax it back to me. Please complete the exam in two hours. If I understood a conversation I overheard in the hall correctly, you can time yourself with an online timer application called “TikTok.” It should be available on your mobile telephones.
I know some of you may struggle to get consistent internet access after the university removed you from your dorms. If you went back home, your parents do not remember the wireless password because they only wrote it down on that Ruby Tuesday receipt they lost six months ago. If you had to temporarily move into the Drury Inn and Suites on Highway 53, I heard you can steal Wi-Fi from the self-storage place across the road from 2:00-4:00 most afternoons.
Thank you for your patience in moving this course online! The good news is that our work will not go to waste, because no matter how terribly this goes, the administration will take this experience as proof that we can offer this course exclusively online and run this version of the course, without revision, online for the next ten years.