JUSTICE is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on public television. Nearly a thousand students pack Harvard’s historic Sanders Theatre to hear Michael Sandel (Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University), “perhaps the most prominent college professor in America,” (Washington Post) talk about justice, equality, democracy, and citizenship. In this 12-part series, Sandel challenges us with hard moral dilemmas and invites us to ponder the right thing to do—in politics and in our everyday lives. Each episode also has two different discussion guides, beginners and advanced, supporting resources - key cases etc, a yes/no pop-quiz for viewers to see how they compare with thousands of other voters, and moderated discussion forums.
Type of Material:
In class, homework, individual or team.
HTML & Flash. It has a standard YouTube Licence - not CC. A good internet connection is needed to watch these videos, and they cannot easily be downloaded for offline use, disadvantaging some potential learners.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Through the 12-part series, Michael Sandel challenges us with difficult moral dilemmas and asks our opinion about the right thing to do. He then asks us to examine our answers in the light of new scenarios. The results are often surprising, revealing that important moral questions are never black and white. The presentations address current hot topics including murder, affirmative action, same-sex marriage, patriotism and rights — and Sandel shows us that we can revisit familiar controversies with a fresh perspective. [Much of the section taken from the JUSTICE web site]
Target Student Population:
College-University level, although by accessing the videos directly at YouTube, there are also thousands of unmoderated viewer comments from the general public.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The web site is easy to navigate and easy to understand when moving from one page to another. The listings of the 12 videos is clear and easy to understand with a picture and brief description accompanying links to each. Accessing the videos is easy while each video is clear and well filmed so that the viewer can get the feeling of being at the live lecture. It is important to remember that this web site is the foundation of a Harvard University course that is made available to the public.
These lectures were taped in 2005 and 2006 and originally broadcast in 2009. The bulk of the content will not age, but references to Bill Gates etc. are dating, and the debate on homosexual marriage has moved on.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The web site includes a variety of menus and links to information such as an introductory video, a page complete with 12 videos of lectures made by Michael Sandel, information on his book "Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?," and news and events along with active discussions in which one may join. The key objectives for the Sandel's course can be discovered by watching the introductory video but this is not necessary to benefit from watching one or more of the 12 video lectures. In each lecture Sandel provides a clear basis for the presentation which almost become so intriguing one will not one to stop watching (and perhaps participating). The subjects are tied together clearly as if one was reading Sandel's book. The web site also includes resources that are associated with each lecture and those resources are extensive and do not require additional software to access.
There is an advertisement & name check of sponsors at the beginning and end of the episodes, but it is easy to avoid these if using in a classroom.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Navigating the web site is very easy as is access the introductory video and the 12 lecture videos. The site is visually appealing and encourages exploration and participation. This is a very high quality package, with professional broadcast-quality video and captions/subtitles provided.
It is not particularly interactive. The pop-quizzes on each episode are very basic and could be improved, but the moderated discussion forums are much better.
Other Issues and Comments:
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