As a graduate student, I was a Teaching Assistant for a Latin American History course taught entirely online, this experience changed my life. The professor and TA’s not only engaged in online discussions with students but went beyond by creating interactive assignments and activities. This was a pioneering project at the time and it seemed to be a favorite among undergraduate students. It was a virtual interactive game where students would create their own avatar and immerse in a group of missions. Each avatar would need to complete certain steps to move on to the next level and the success relied on their knowledge of the material being studied. The physical environment and level of difficulty changed according to the subject and the level of the course. In answering questions, avatars would gain certain tools that advanced their mission.
At first, I was skeptical about this activity, I had seen my younger siblings playing similar games and they just didn’t seem educational. However, I was completely wrong, many of these games are educational because they require people to think critically and perform certain tasks. In this course, students not only did all the readings but went beyond by doing their own research outside of class. I just felt in love with digital learning, we were connecting with our students and they were genuinely interested in the course. It was a success!
However, it was also very stressful for us. The many programs and platforms that we had to use and the endless technical errors we didn’t know how fix were our major challenges. The professor and the TA’s were constantly meeting with IT to resolve these issues and many times the solutions weren’t simple. Also, our challenges grew with the development of the program.
In the future, I would like to pursue creating a similar online interactive experience in my Latin American Civilization and Culture course, however, this would be a long-term project that I would need to develop in collaboration with colleagues and students. I am excited for the opportunity to explore new horizons that will allow me to connect with my students outside of a traditional classroom and in exciting new spaces.