DURHAM, N.H. – This summer, the University of New Hampshire will bring the magical world of Harry Potter to young learners who will have a chance to participate in the university’s first Massive Online Course for Kids (MOCK).
“Harry Potter as Storytelling: An Online Adventure for the Young Fan” is designed for youth entering grades 4 to 8. The two-week session will run from July 15 to July 26, 2013, and will cost $200. To register for the course, visit www.unh.edu/liberal-arts/potter-storytelling.html.
“This online course is designed to help kids avoid ‘the summer slide’ by having them working on their language arts skills in the fun, appealing context of Harry Potter. Students participate in the enrichment program at whatever time of day is most convenient for them. The material has been broken down into small, free-standing units, so kids can spend a few minutes or a few hours on the course at one time,” says admitted Harry Potter fan James Krasner, professor of English, who will teach the course.
Every summer, UNH hosts a number of summer camps and educational enrichment activities for youth of all ages. This is the first time, though, that the university has offered a youth summer enrichment course online. The course was conceived by Krasner and is being developed at UNH.
“Several universities offer Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), but we wanted to do something new and educationally unique,” Krasner says.
In the course, Potter fans will be introduced to the basic tools of reading, writing, language use, and literary analysis by seeing how they work in the Harry Potter books. They will learn about the artistic, historical, literary, linguistic and scientific richness of the Harry Potterbooks. The course may be particularly helpful to youth who love Harry Potter but are struggling in school.
Unlike many courses that progress sequentially so that one skill must be mastered before the next can be begun, the lessons in Harry Potter as Storytelling connect language arts skills laterally. Each lesson moves back and forth between a variety of skills, including language and grammar use, characterization, identifying themes, punctuation, vocabulary, historical and scientific writing, mythology, sound devices, and figures of speech.
“This lateral structure encourages students to make links between topics. It fosters student imaginative and intellectual growth by forging new pathways of knowledge,” Krasner says. “This nonlinear approach breaks down the language arts curriculum into ‘micro-skills’ and allows students to use their preferred pace and structure, which may be helpful for students with alternative learning styles, challenges or disabilities.”
The course will consist of five classes, each with a specific academic focus. Each class will have several 5 to 15-minute lectures based on passages from the Harry Potter books, as well as optional creative writing assignments.
“We think that Potter fans will enjoy learning about how language works in Rowling's writing,” Krasner says.
UNH also is planning to include game-like elements such as allowing students to choose a character, earn points or badges for their house, and unlock certain areas in their houses.
“The class will be a lot of fun while also being academic. There are thousands of web pages online where you can swap Harry Potter trivia, fan fiction, and gossip. But here, we will dig into the literary and artistic aspects of Rowling's works while also remaining rabid Potter fans,” Krasner says.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.
James Krasner, professor of English, talks about what students will be learning in UNH’s first Massive Online Course for Kids (MOCK), “Harry Potter as Storytelling: An Online Adventure for the Young Fan.”
James Krasner, professor of English, will teach UNH’s first Massive Online Course for Kids (MOCK), “Harry Potter as Storytelling: An Online Adventure for the Young Fan.”