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Free Online Tolkien/LOTRO Class (Coursera)


Sep 9 2013, 6:36pm

Post #1 of 3 (194 views)
Free Online Tolkien/LOTRO Class (Coursera) Can't Post

For those who are unaware, a class just began today through Coursera.org, a website that I have used the past couple years to take several free, non-credit college courses through different universities. You can enroll or unenroll anytime you'd like (I know there is a limit to how long you have to enroll after the class starts, but you can always unenroll), and you can audit the course if you simply do not have time for homework and only wish to participate in discussions, watch class lectures and so forth. I've displayed the syllabus below, and you can get to the class here: https://www.coursera.org/#course/onlinegames

The course is designed as a university-level English literature class—a multi-genre, multimedia tour of how literature, film, and games engage in the basic human activity of storytelling. Our journey will enable us to learn something about narrative theory, introduce us to some key topics in media studies and cover some of the history and theory of video games. It will also take us to some landmarks of romance literature, the neverending story that lies behind most fantasy games: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, a bit of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and poems by Keats, Tennyson, Browning, and others.
The course is presented through three different kinds of videos:
  1. Short lectures by the instructor. We use this mode to convey key concepts, history, and theory.
  2. Small seminars. In these sessions, which make up the majority of the course, I am joined by five wonderful Vanderbilt students to talk about their encounter with gaming. Some of them are new to gaming; others have been gaming since childhood.
  3. In-game sessions. These videos plunge you into the action of Lord of the Rings Online. They combine in-game footage with analysis of narrative and game theory.

Each week also includes a reading assignment or, in Week 3, a film to watch, and each is assessed by a quiz that covers information from both the assigned reading and the videos. Students have up to 3 attempts to master the quiz, with the highest score counting, and each question provides an explanation for the correct answer. Videos are interactive, with brief, ungraded questions for you to answer. These in-video questions are intended to help you be sure that you understand key concepts (in-video questions may be skipped without penalty). For students in the Distinction Track, there will be three peer assessment exercises, which will require you to play The Lord of the Rings Online and give you the option of submitting multi-media projects using screenshots of the game and screen-capture video.

Students determine the level of course involvement, whether it is watching the videos or choosing to complete some or all of the weekly quizzes. Students can choose one of two tracks. The Standard Track tests student knowledge of the subject through weekly quizzes. The Distinction Track includes all the weekly quizzes from the Standard Track (with additional questions based on gameplay) and adds three peer-assessed assignments. Each of the peer-assessed assignments gives the Distinction Track student the opportunity to write a short essay or create a multi-media project, using screenshots or video-capture of in-game activities. Students in the Standard Track who earn a passing grade (70% and above) will receive a Statement of Accomplishment; students in the Distinction Track who earn a passing grade (70% and above) will receive a Statement of Accomplishment—with Distinction.

Gameplay is optional for students, except those who want to pursue the Distinction Track. But we encourage all students who have access to a computer capable of running the game to try it out. It’s lots of fun, although challenging for those who are new to MMOs. Check out the Discussion Forum for a list of some sites with new player guides that have proved helpful for beginners.

You may download LOTRO for free directly from www.lotro.com or from third-party sites such as Steam http://store.steampowered.com/. The game can take 6-12 hours to download and install, and sometimes adjustments to your computer settings are needed to make it to run properly. So get started early on downloading!

*I would love to know if anyone else is taking this class. I have been looking forward to this for many moons.


Sep 9 2013, 11:21pm

Post #2 of 3 (128 views)
wow, that sounds fascinating [In reply to] Can't Post

Let us know how it goes!

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars, and so on -- while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man, for precisely the same reasons. -- Douglas Adams

Tol Eressea

Sep 10 2013, 9:58pm

Post #3 of 3 (131 views)
Cool... [In reply to] Can't Post

very tempting.....time is a factor for me at the moment...I may have to look into this course soon...

What's the matter, James? No glib remark? No pithy comeback?"



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