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ERIC Number: EJ994261
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Apr-29
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
"Supersizing" the College Classroom: How One Instructor Teaches 2,670 Students
Parry, Marc
Chronicle of Higher Education, Apr 2012
In October, Myanmar's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, got a quirky request on YouTube. A hyperactive instructor in a plaid jacket posted a video inviting her to do a Skype interview with his "World Regions" geography class at Virginia Tech. Ms. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate often compared to Nelson Mandela, might have ignored this plea were it not for how the video ended. The camera pivoted from the instructor, John Boyer, to an auditorium filled with some 3,000 students. They leapt from their seats, blew noisemakers, and chanted her name as if the Hokies had scored a touchdown. John Boyer of Virginia Tech employs a host of technologies in a world-events class that attracts students in droves--and they are learning. He is exploring how technology can help engage students in face-to-face courses that enroll from 600 to nearly 3,000 students. Boyer describes his course as an "Intro to the Planet" that brings "the average completely uninformed American" up to speed on world issues. His approach? Decentralize the rigid class format by recreating assessment as a gamelike system in which students earn points for completing assignments of their choosing from many options (1,050 points earns an A, and no tasks, not even exams, are required). Saturate students with Facebook and Twitter updates (some online pop quizzes are announced only on social media). Keep the conversation going with online office hours. And snag big-name visitors by turning the enormous class into a digital hive that swarms them with requests. Other recent guests have included Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen, whose recent movie focuses on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain, and Jason Russell, creator of "Kony 2012," a viral video about the brutal Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia