Toledo Talk

Vietnam War MOOC

Just a quick plug for a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) I am teaching on the Canvas Learn Network starting next week on the History of the Vietnam War.

If you are interested in the Vietnam War, or MOOCs, or have nothing better to do for the next six weeks, feel free to join the class. There is no cost or obligation with enrollment, and you are free to participate or lurk as you choose.

Hope to see a few TT-ers next week (I know one regular who has joined, but his secret identity shall forever remain so).

The course is designed like a survey undergraduate class for non-majors. Students who successfully complete the course earn a completion certificate, which is useful for items like continuing education credits. At this point college credit to accredited universities is not directly tied to courses like this, but down the road this will be a possibility (some MOOC providers are already connected with certain universities, but not all MOOCs translate into credit).

Some people use MOOCs to brush up on topics, while others use MOOCs as a way to see if they are prepared to handle college-level work, especially if they have been away from school for a while. So feel free to drop in and see if the class has benefit to you.

created by historymike on May 15, 2014 at 04:59:36 pm
updated by historymike on May 15, 2014 at 05:09:12 pm
    Education     Comments: 19

source      versions      1 person liked this


Comments ... #

Cool. I took a pretty high level course on the Vietnam War when I was in college and even though I lived through it, (the war, and the class, I guess) the course was fascinating and I learned so much about the prior French involvement, what we didn't learn from their time at Dien bien phu, how we got involved, and basically who was zooming who.

Well worth the time, if you have it.

posted by justread on May 15, 2014 at 05:39:17 pm     #   2 people liked this

I am old enough to remember some aspects of the war first-hand, justread, though I was too young to have ever been draft age. What I find most interesting is with my traditional-straight-from-high-school students, for whom the Vietnam War is distant history.

They know some of the material through films and other popular culture, but they completely lack personal connection to the war, save for family members who may have served.

posted by historymike on May 15, 2014 at 06:48:46 pm     #  

How does it work? Is it live and if so what time? I am interested I just have to fit it into my schedule. If i do this i want to set the time aside to do all six weeks.

posted by Molsonator on May 15, 2014 at 09:32:27 pm     #  

This sounds extremely interesting, but I'd much prefer an actual classroom setting where I can lob spitballs at justread and Madjack.

posted by McCaskey on May 15, 2014 at 11:20:55 pm     #  

Then they would have to call it a "mook" class.

posted by justread on May 16, 2014 at 12:03:52 am     #   1 person liked this

historymike posted at 06:48:46 PM on May 15, 2014:

I am old enough to remember some aspects of the war first-hand, justread, though I was too young to have ever been draft age. What I find most interesting is with my traditional-straight-from-high-school students, for whom the Vietnam War is distant history.

They know some of the material through films and other popular culture, but they completely lack personal connection to the war, save for family members who may have served.

I was a non-traditional student in the late 80s. So, I guess the class was almost 30 years ago, but less than 15 years after the last chopper left Saigon as it fell. I was too young to have served also, but remembered the news footage and the reaction to things at home. And the disillusionment.

I remember being shocked to learn that the French conquest of Indochina started 100 years before our first "advisors" hit the ground there, and what the impact of WW2 was in terms of setting the stage. The whole Diem thing was pretty amazing too.

I have often thought about the things that I learned in that class, and applied them to current events.

What a great class for you to get to teach.

posted by justread on May 16, 2014 at 12:23:31 am     #  

To suspend the yucks for now (a rarity for me), I'm also curious how the class works, like Molsonator.

It's a serious topic, taught be a serious guy. And I might just sign up, although life gets a tad hectic for me mid-June or so. Might need to copy justread's notes for the final exam...

I was good 'ol number 41 in the Feb. '72 lottery draft. Too low...way, way too low. If you were under 60 or so, you were gone. Went through the pre-entry physical, where the Army guys had a field day busting the chops of us college longhairs. Plan was to stay in school and wait it out, which I did, by skin of my teeth. Paris Peace Accords signed Jan. of '73; believe my lottery class was the first where nobody actually got shipped out.

Lost some friends I did, couple neighborhood guys a little older who weren't in college and couldn't get the deferment. Met and worked with another later on who was at Khe Sanh when the shit went down. Some stories he told...(sigh).

Mike, I'm sure you'll do the class justice. A cool video aid would be the 1983 PBS multi-part series 'Vietnam: A Television History'. Tremendous footage and narration, covers it all.

Maybe see some of y'all in class.

posted by McCaskey on May 16, 2014 at 01:48:22 am     #  

Molsonator:

The class is asynchronous, meaning that you can complete the coursework at any point in the week, and there are no specific times you have to be in the class. There are weekly readings quizzes and a weekly discussion essay, plus two written projects (1200-1500 words each) and a final exam that is essay-based.

However, many people use MOOCs just for edification. There is no penalty for not completing the course (i.e., unlike a graded course from an accredited university, where grades end up on a permanent transcript).

Students read the material, watch video lectures I present, and utilize other supplemental materials (video clips, timelines, and so forth).

Feel free to drop in and lurk, too: many people never complete any coursework, and they just access the lectures and videos for personal knowledge.

posted by historymike on May 16, 2014 at 06:58:42 am     #  

McCaskey:

Yes, that PBS collection is an excellent series with a ton of great archival imagery and interviews with military, diplomatic, and policy leaders from both sides.

I own the DVDs, and when I teach this class face-to-face I often show clips from it. Even though it is a bit dated (early 1980s) it is still high quality (occasionally the students will chuckle at the dated captions and background music, but they get over the time gap quickly when they understand how important this series is in capturing the war).

For this MOOC, copyright and fair use issues prevent me from uploading the video series (Canvas Learn s a division of Canvas Instructure, a for-profit company).

Another excellent series is Vietnam: The 10,000-Day War. It was produced in Canada, and it is a bit more detached in its examination of the war (i.e., less in the way of personal reminiscences and more interviews with policy architects).

posted by historymike on May 16, 2014 at 07:09:59 am     #   1 person liked this

McCaskey posted at 11:20:55 PM on May 15, 2014:

This sounds extremely interesting, but I'd much prefer an actual classroom setting where I can lob spitballs at justread and Madjack.

...American involvement in the war as a way to prevent a Communist takeover of South Vietnam. This was part of a wider containment strategy, with the stated aim of stopping the spread of communism. According to the U.S. domino theory, if one state went Communist, other states in the region would follow, and U.S. policy thus held that accommodation to the spread -

::BLAM!::

he-he-he!
Ha!
Ha!Ha!
Ha!Ha!Ha!

Awright, who put the M-80 in the boy's bathroom?
::he-he-he-he-he-he!::
Jack, do you have something you'd like to share with the class? No? How about JustRead. JustRead? Cat got your tongue? Awright, the next little communist who assaults the bathroom is getting a zero for the day. Are we clear on that? Jack? Are we clear?

Mad Jack: snicker-choke Yes sir. As a bell, sir. Twenty-twenty, sir.
McCaskey: cough blowjob cough

Now then, as I was saying...

posted by madjack on May 16, 2014 at 09:09:23 am     #   2 people liked this

Take a look...

http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~tpilsch/Vietnam.html

posted by rch101 on May 16, 2014 at 10:10:57 am     #  

Interesting site, rch101. There are lots of useful links there, though the site is heavy on web pages as opposed to video and interactive materials.

It also is heavy on the U.S. military perspective, though this is not surprising, since the site author (Thomas D. Pilsch) is a retired USAF Brigadier General.

The course I teach blends military, political, social, and cultural history to provide a broader overview of the 30 years of war in Southeast Asia from 1945-75. I tend to spend less time on things like Hueys and and M483A battle tanks and more time examining the less-traveled aspects of the war, like the Clifford Task Force or the 1966 Buddhist rebellion.

posted by historymike on May 16, 2014 at 01:28:15 pm     #  

Another aspect that I always found interesting is the Ngo Dinh Diem family, and his crazy brother the "bishop." The whole fascination with the Vatican was an unexpected element for me. Uncanny that South Vietnam and the US both had Catholic Presidents at the same time. (And that they were assassinated less than three weeks apart.)

posted by justread on May 16, 2014 at 03:22:22 pm     #  

Agreed, justread: one of the reasons that Diem had so much support in Washington in the mid-1950s was his Catholic faith, which made him seem more like "us." Of course, this made him atypical in Vietnam, which is heavily Buddhist, and where Catholics were about 10 percent of the population.

posted by historymike on May 16, 2014 at 04:16:11 pm     #  

I took a "very" high level course on the Vietnam war. I was there. Two tours. I would love to participate Historymike and thank you for doing it. A lot of Vietnam vets really know very little of the real history of the conflict they fought in. Most don't really care to know or remember. I am the opposite. I have read everything I could find on Vietnam from the 1930's on and still keep finding more I didn't know.

posted by Wydowmaker on May 16, 2014 at 09:19:55 pm     #  

My Uncle Bob refused to talk about anything that happened in his two tours. He opened up to my dad once and dad said what he went through was some crazy stuff.

posted by lfrost2125 on May 16, 2014 at 10:01:10 pm     #  

Would you have a problem with me mentioning this on air this week, as I know many Vietnam Era vets who listen and would find this interesting. Maybe drop me a line if there are any details I should use fred@wspd.com

posted by fred on May 17, 2014 at 12:01:57 pm     #  

Sure, Fred! I will email you the details; thanks!

posted by historymike on May 17, 2014 at 01:03:17 pm     #  

Here's a link to an interview featuring Fred and HistoryMike:
Fred's Interview with HistoryMike.

This is a decent interview and worth listening to.

posted by madjack on May 19, 2014 at 11:44:28 am     #   2 people liked this