Recently, a class of graduate students at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey visited me via Skype to discuss their reactions to Daniel Goldhagen's Worse than War and the accompanying documentary. They used the Facing History study guide, Genocide and Eliminationism, as a point of departure for their discussion. Since the session had the structure of the study guide and students had prepared papers on their reading of Worse than War, the class was incredibly interactive. I would remark on a passage in the book or a scene in the documentary and the students and professor (Dr. Carol Rittner) would respond. Then there were some free associations to the questions posed just as would happen face-to-face.
One of the most remarkable discussions revolved around Goldhagen's distinction between "dehumanization" and "demonization." Because we could all see one another during the session and could read facial expressions, etc. it had much more impact than a conference call would have had. Moreover, the class and I were so engaged in the discussion that we wanted to continue it in a future session. I think that using Skype or Adobe Connect has tremendous potential, especially if participants and their facilitator are prepared for the session and are ready with questions and thoughts about the source to be discussed. I do wonder if Facing History could think about having sessions with scholars during summer seminars that would have a similar impact as this Worse than War discussion. Have any of you used Skype or a webinar platform in your classrooms? If so, in what capacity? What are your takeaways/best practices?