Course Exam: Religious Studies (RELS) 211

One of what I hope will be a continuing series of interviews with AU faculty about their courses in AUSU’s Voice Magazine. This one is concerned with the intriguingly titled Death and Dying in World Religions, explained by the author and coordinator, Dr. Shandip SahaIt provides fascinating glimpses into the course rationale, process and pedagogy, as well as some nice insights into what drives and interests Dr Saha. There are some nice innovative aspects, such as formally arranged phone conversations between tutor and student at key points – low tech, high engagement, great for building empathy while doing much to assure high quality results. It does make me wonder, when tutors inevitably therefore get to know a lot about their students and their thinking, why an exam is still necessary. My inclination, in the next revision, would be to scrap that or make it more reflective (‘what I did on my course’ kind of thing) as it offers nothing much to an otherwise great-sounding course apart from a lot of stress and effort for all concerned. The course subject matter and pedagogy itself sounds brilliant and I really like Dr Saha’s attitude and approach to its design and implementation. 

I would love to see more of these. It’s a great way of sharing knowledge and reducing the distance. One of the fascinating things about our virtual institution is that, in some ways, we have far greater opportunities to learn from one another than those in conventional institutions, where geographical isolation means people seldom get a chance to see how those in other centres and faculties think and work, and the local is always more salient than the remote. Online learning can and should break down boundaries. Apart from places like here on the Landing, where a few dozen courses have a pitch, we don’t normally take enough advantage of this. I would encourage any AU faculty who are running courses that are even a little out of the ordinary to share a bit about them with the rest of us via blogs on the Landing, even if the courses themselves don’t actually use the site. Or maybe even to contact Marie Well at the Voice Magazine to volunteer an interview!

Address of the bookmark:

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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