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MichalClements

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Taking Modpo (Modern and Contemporary Poetry) with Al Filreis and the team of TAs is an outstanding learning experience. Along with the lively discussion of each poem available via video, there is a constant dialog via the discussion threads, along with weekly live webinars. But that’s just a starting point, as Al has assembled a treasure trove of materials, with poets reading their own poems (on Penn Sound and other), along with discussion forums with other poets. The warm, welcoming style of Al and the TA team makes the experience very accessible and unintimidating, and it is clear that many students intend on visiting the Kelly Writer’s House (KWH), and that the door at KWH is always open. As a topic, modern and contemporary poetry seems very well suited to an online course as the reading (the poems) are generally short enough to allow the chance to hear the poet and have a thorough discussion without an overly long video or audio file. The writing assignments have also provided a good learning experience and the lively conversation about the difference between an evaluation rubric and an assignment received over 4,600 views in a short period of time. It was fascinating to observe some students' desire for more structure and lectures, as contrasted to the course’s teaching philosophy of learning through discovery and discussion. The class uses a peer evaluation process, and this too has been a learning experience. The points and discussions raised in the class and the discussion threads go well beyond poetry, shedding insight into how we like to learn and interact. I have recommended this class and also Coursera to many of my friends and colleagues who are lifelong learners. We are signing up for future courses together, though ModPo and Al have set the bar very, very high for other classes to live up to.