I changed my mind.

I was going to “digitize” a class that I teach on modern Southeast Asian History, but I’ve decided not to do that yet.

Instead, given that the “readership” or “audience” of this blog is focused mainly on Vietnam, I’ve decided to digitize a course that I teach on Vietnamese history first.


As I prepare to do this, I keep asking myself a question: What should a “YouTube historical survey” look like?

There are plenty of people who have made MOOCs (Massive Online Open Course) by now. I do like some of them, but I’ve yet to find one that really has a “personality.”

Instead, in attempting to reach “everyone,” the creators of MOOCs often create something that is “acceptable” to everyone, and that often leads to, in my opinion, a course that is somewhat dull in its presentation.

But what should we try to present? Something “professional”? What is that? Does that mean that I should have a bamboo flute playing in the background when I talk about premodern Vietnam?

Something “entertaining”? How do you make history entertaining without demeaning it?

Island Style (2)

The more I think about this, the more I find myself attracted to the idea that an online course should reflect something about the person who is presenting the information. We can’t escape who we are, so why try to hide who we are?

Virtually everything that I know about Vietnamese history I’ve learned while living on the beautiful island of Oahu, and for 15 or more years I’ve taught students from Hawaii, so why not recognize the “sense of place” that comes from living and growing in a given environment?

So I think that it therefore only makes sense to digitize my Vietnamese history course as “Vietnamese History – Island Style.”

Here is the intro/teaser. I’ll get to work digitizing the lectures soon.