DIS Faculty Member Takes Class Outside the Classroom, and to Another Country

During the Spring 2016 semester, DIS faculty member Jesper Petersen used his time away from the classroom in the most efficient way possible – by taking his students with him to Iran.

For a portion of the semester, Jesper was in Iran, and used his time there to connect through social media with students in his courses, Muslims in the West, Globalized Islam and Sharia Law, and Religion and Politics in Europe. Jesper interviewed locals based on topics the students suggested, and shared the interviews online in the courses’ Facebook groups and forum. The topics range from dating in the Islamic Republic, religion, nationalism, to the U.S. and Israel from an Iranian perspective. Students responded to the videos and used social media to answer and discuss.

“Iranian individuals joined the forum, so students had direct access. They could interview [the woman] via the forum. I hoped this would give the whole experience an extra dimension. The project gave students access to a world that is normally out of reach. They could not have read this in a textbook. I tried to make them experience modern Iran via my trip (again via social media).”

Students were also given assignments such as visiting an Islamic Arts Museum in Copenhagen, watching documentaries, and researching specific topics and answering questions. Combining this knowledge with the real-time videos of Jesper in Iran created a holistic view of past and present Iran.

“I asked a question every morning that forced students to explore Iran online, and I hope this – combined with the video casts and discussions – gave students a more realistic perception of modern Iran,” Jesper said.

The videos gave students as close of a view of the country’s political and cultural dynamics without physically being in the country. Jesper’s use of multimedia with his courses exemplifies unique ways that DIS faculty are using technology in the classroom, with the goal of achieving a new level of engagement.

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