ITA 2017 Assignment Winner: Glenn Kranking Posted on May 7th, 2018 by

This is one of a few interviews conducted by Ellyn Adelmann ‘18 with winners and previous nominees for the Gustavus Innovative Teaching Award during the 2017-2018 academic year.

With a goal to find a different way for students to engage with the course material throughout the semester, Glenn Kranking, Department of History, Scandinavian Studies, and Russian, incorporated a contemporary assignment into one of his courses. In HIS-303: We Want You! Propaganda and Persuasion in the Modern World, Kranking created the infrastructure of a website but had students generate the content. With this project, one aim was “to have them think of a different audience, different that academic writing for a professor.” This allowed for students to present their analyses of historical and modern propaganda in a refreshing, creative way for a public audience. In addition, students designed and implemented their own propaganda campaign to encourage student voting in the most recent Presidential election. Professor Kranking also engineered innovative ways for students to engage with their classmates’ posted material, including having the class develop a tagging system to classify incoming propaganda posts and requiring students to use examples of propaganda posted by their classmates on both their midterm and final exams.

This project did not create and implement itself overnight. Kranking invested a significant amount of time learning new technology and adjusting his curriculum in order to teach his students how to manage the website. Through the process of creating the website and working with his students, he needed to work out challenges and be adaptable. Kranking said, “You have to be willing to try and let it fail,” and by taking this risk, he found great success. He plans to use this assignment each time he teaches the course, allowing each semester’s content to be added to the previous, creating a sizable repository for propaganda. He will continue making changes to the design and infrastructure, but will not alter the students’ work, as they have been peer edited. In addition, he is looking for ways of having students in other courses also contribute to the website.


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