Course Principles


“…the true benefit of the academy is the interaction, the access to the debate, to the negotiation of knowledge — not to the stale cataloging of content.” – Dave Cormier and George Siemens.


This course is designed to incorporate principles of Open Pedagogy, Connected Learning and Social Justice. 

To me, this means that you will be encouraged to reach out beyond the walls of the classroom and laboratory, and to participate in learning with others, beyond your professor, your peers and the boundaries of Keene State College. It means that you will be encouraged to use a web domain space of your own to communicate widely and to consider the local, regional and global ramifications of your work. It means that you will be encouraged to use, create and share Openly Licensed resources. Teaching by these principles also means that we will work together to help you take ownership of what and how you learn. (I want you to hold me to that). Finally, for me, opening up your educational experience is about finding ways to connect your learning to relevant social, political, environmental and economic issues, and to consider social injustices and impacts on peoples of the world. And not just to learn about these connections and impacts, but to find ways to actively and positively influence them.

Some might find it ironic that I am challenging the idea of the “cataloging of content” as a worthy educational endeavor in, not just a STEM course like Biology, but in a very traditional course, Invertebrate Zoology, with a long history and an enormous amount of terminology and scientific names to learn. Indeed, attempting to examine the diversity, anatomy, physiology, development, behavior, genetics, evolution and ecology of 97%+ of the world’s animal species is quite an undertaking. What should we focus on? What should we memorize? What useful resources can we create?

This course has classroomonline and lab components, you will have opportunities to

  • actively listen to lectures, engage in discussions with your peers and instructor in class
  • work with live organisms, preserved specimens and photographs
  • write, draw, create media as a process of learning
  • make connections between the science that you learn and its social, political and economic contexts
  • make connections with other people, share your work on the web, engage the public, make a difference

This course will be learner-driven. This means that we will work together to

  • create the attendance policy
  • write the learning outcomes
  • determine the use of class time for various activities
  • design/refine assignments
  • determine the grading system