Teaching K-pop, Part 3: Content, or Look Ma! No Books!

Image by MichaelGaida from Pixabay

In Part 2, I talked about how to help students develop knowledge and skills (assignments) and how to evaluate what they know and are able to do (assessments). Finally, in Part 3, we get to what many of us consider to be the fun part: deciding what material to cover and activities to do in our course.

I made two decisions about the content for my course.  The first was that I would not require students to purchase a book on Korean popular culture. I want students to have a critical framework for examining Korean popular culture, but I also did not want them to get hung up on academic jargon. This is an elective course with multiple majors, not a required major course culminating in a major research project.   Moreover, I was more interested in students being able to apply scholarly concepts and see the impact of historical context than their ability to recite this or that theory. So I opted to have students read journal articles, which are more accessible. I will supplement this information with mini interactive lectures that also show them how to apply scholarly ideas.  I have also allowed flexibility in my choice of other course material. Other than choosing our course K-drama, I have decided to use current events in Korean popular culture and relate them to the historical context and scholarly ideas we will encounter in the readings. This will keep class fresh and relevant for students.

The second was that I would emphasize discussions about what we were learning. Fully a quarter of my course is devoted to some kind of discussion. My course is online and asynchronous. I know many of my colleagues worry about how to maintain student engagement, since it is so different from their face-to-face experience. I’m taking a page out of the K-pop handbook, and allowing my students to have smaller but more frequent interactions about the material by having them respond to specific topics I pose. By guiding the discussion, I also model how students can also post engaging discussion questions.  I’m using Slack (my first time) to have students talk and work with each other and engage the material. Slack is also an app that students can access on their phones, as opposed to our clunky LMS (yes, Blackboard, I’m talking about you). Slack also allows you to post multimedia, so I encourage students to share things that are related to their interests, much like you would among your friends.  I also know such conversations are fruitful to me as a scholar.

These decisions also support student learning in a pandemic.   I really like this piece, “Videoconferencing Alternatives: How Low-Bandwidth Teaching Will Save Us All”  by Daniel Stanford on low-bandwidth teaching. He reminds us that “courses that require frequent use of high-bandwidth technologies can limit their ability to fully participate in course activities. This can jeopardize their success in the course, create a sense of shame and anxiety and leave them feeling like second-class citizens.”

Image Credit: Daniel Stanford

By using Slack for collaboration and discussion, I hope to keep the course accessible for all students to increase the chances that not only will students continue to participate in the course, but will have more effective learning as they do so. I know my students are familiar with chat and messaging so if they can use these in our course, they will be more likely to be engaged in the class and its content.


Daniel Stanford. “Videoconferencing Alternatives: How Low-Bandwidth Teaching Sill Save Us All.” iddblog. 16 Mar 2020. https://www.iddblog.org/videoconferencing-alternatives-how-low-bandwidth-teaching-will-save-us-all/ . (Accessed 27 Aug 2020).

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Teaching K-pop, Part 3: Content, or Look Ma! No Books! by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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