This page updated on 29 January, 2008
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What can aliens mean in SF texts? 


Learning episode 1: curriculum overview and concept map 


Purpose and use of this learning episode:

If this learning episode were undertaken by a face-to-face class with students, they were asked to access their intranet portal for the first couple of classes. The portal solution used is myclasses and it is offered by Editure in Australia. This solution has standard features like a calndar, a mail system, display of files needed and text with image blocks. The portal also offers the use of a Forum for discussing points, as well as a Journal for students self-reflection. Additionally, students can download and upload assessment tasks through the portal from school or home. These assessment tasks are called eLFs by Editure and they are also noted in the general overview notes, seen below.


As can be seen by the notes, below, written to the students, the mySF Project can use the learning episodes and tasks either in a class with computer access to the myclasses portal, or from home or elsewhere. The mySF Project stresses collaboration through the Forum properties, cooperation in project teams for tasks, as well as self-reflection through the Journal.


If a student were away from school due to illness or sporting commitments, he or she can follow all the work and contribute actively through the portal. All files including the podcasts are available through the portal and no other texts are required.


Because the Australian Copyright rules for teachers may allow the use of images from aired broadcasts, segments of sound and even whole programs available on the intranet, these learning episodes always used images from the films under study, as teasers for future content. For instance, in this learning episode the picture at the top was from a well known series where reptilian aliens invade the Earth, disguised as normal people. The picture showed a rather snatty woman devouring a live guinea-pig through enormous jaws.


In this version under Creative Commons and while waiting for permissions from DVD producers for the mySF Project, dull old copyright-free clip art is offered instead. Please imagine strange and even grotesque images greeting the secondary audience in every learning episode, with sound fragments available in the portal's Files Box.


The content, below, is offered to students in the first learning episode of the 'enemy within' theme area of the mySF Project. The Concept map task is usually including in the eLF property but is included here as part of learning episode one. .



Overview of the mySF Project and the Enemy Within theme area

Negotiating assessment

eLF exercises

Journal entries

Concept Map task

Resource List


Overview of the mySF Project and the Enemy Within theme area:

Image of the LE1 icon - green alien, of course 

The 'Enemy Within' theme area is one of the theme areas found online in the myclasses system. The 'Enemy Within' theme area looks at the role of aliens in Science Fiction (SF) texts, including short stories, novels and films. Collectively, these are called texts.


The mySF Project has several parts and is broken down into different theme areas and different places to use online services, like a Journal, or to find files, or to chat online with another student or the teacher.


During Learning Episode 1 (this one) it is very important to have a good look around the main portal that makes up the 'Enemy Within' theme area.


There are some things found on the 'Enemy Within' portal that you need. These are:

The mySF Admin portal has other important properties and files. They are:

It is very important to have a good look around and a play with the various parts of the mySF Project. Have a poke around and see what happens! Get used to where everything is and how it works.



Negotiating assessment:


One of the most important things to be done in the first week is to arrange when the assessment tasks will be due. In the mySF Project it is usual for tasks like a presentation, an in-class test, video reviews, a series of ongoing Journal entries, or even an alien creation task to be scheduled. There are several tasks available for the teacher to run for the class to assist the understanding of the role of aliens in SF, the main focus of the 'Enemy Within' theme area.


It is very important to discuss the assessment with the other students and the teacher. Then the tasks can be scheduled in the eLF property (see below) with notices and calendar entries also to remind students when everything is due. Work will be submitted online, through the myclasses system, so it is very important to keep checking the Notices, the Calendars and the eLFs themselves.


Learning Episode 1 is the time to organise assessment, around other demands and other study.


eLF exercises:


Learning Episode 1 organisation will see the uploading of tasks to the eLF property in the 'Enemy Within' theme portal. These eLFs have details of what is expected, when work is due online, guidelines for submitting work, and also details on how the submitted work will be assessed.


Students can access, download and respond to these tasks in the eLF property from school, home or anywhere that has a compatible internet browser. The eLFs are used used for completing any of the assessment tasks as set in the myclasses eLF area on the Enemy Within portal page. Please check the descriptions of the assessment tasks and their due dates and submit your responses using the Submit button on the task. Please add a comment about the task as you submit it. This will assist your teacher in improving the Enemy Within theme area content and associated tasks.


Journal entries:


Throughout the ten weeks of the mySF Project students will be expected to use the Journal property in the myclasses p[ortal. This Journal property will be used to reflect on the work, discussions and readings. The reflection in your personal Journal area is an important means for your communication to your teachers, and also a great way for you to rethink and restructure your own ideas about the use of aliens in SF, a major part of the 'Enemy Within' theme area.


Concept Map task:

The 'Enemy Within' theme area begins work with a concept map of what students know about aliens in SF, to begin with. That is, what knowledge and understanding is brought into the start of the mySF Project. Students will be asked to use Inspiration or Visio to make a graphical representation of understandings about aliens in SF, then submit these online through myclasses to the teacher.


Please check the eLF property on myclasses to see what is required of the first concept map for the Enemy Within theme area. It should be submitted during week one of the mySF Project.


Please submit a comment about your making of the concept map as this will assist your teacher and others in improving the mySF Project.


Concept Map Task

mySF Project

Enemy Within theme area

Learning Episode 1

Your task today is as follows:

  1. Open Inspiration, Visio (or other concept mapping software) on your computers
  2. Select the Rapid Fire icon with Inspiration
  3. Select the main, central icon and put your full name in that central icon
  4. Create another, linked icon with rapid fire and call it 'aliens in SF'
  5. Create linked points and sub-points based on your own ideas of the role of Aliens in Science Fiction
  6. You may want to consider such things as:
    1. Novels and stories you might know : Asimov, Bear, Le Guin, or any others
    2. Star Wars
    3. Peaceful visits: ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    4. Doctor Who - Daleks, Cybermen?
    5. Red Dwarf, Blake Seven, Star Trek, Deep Space Nine
    6. Contact: the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Project
    7. Themes in alien SF: Hostile invasion (Independence Day, War of the Worlds)
    8. The look of aliens: reptilian, insect-like, advanced, child-like
    9. Aliens as threats or saviours for Humankind?
    10. Aliens and religion: if they exist, do they have an idea of God?


Your task here is to make a coherent concept-map of everything you know about the depiction of aliens in SF texts, including books, stories, TV and film. Make it complex and show all your ideas on the concept map. Experiment and discuss the task with your friends.


This task is due at the end of the Learning Episode 1 and is worth 5% of your total for the mySF unit, so take it seriously. It is designed as a snapshot of your undertsanding of this topic at this time. It is used as part of a Constructivist teaching methodology, starting with a Concept Map to obtain a snapshot of existing knowledge in the topic area.


It will be used as a basis to build the unit to suit your needs, so please take it seriously. You may use any of the rich and wonderful icons in Inspiration or Visio to assist you with this task, or images from the Web. 


Please be careful with your spelling and expression.


Submit the Concept Map at the end of the Learning Episode 1, using the Submit button in myclasses.



Resource List:


At the bottom of each web page linked from the weekly learning episodes will be found a list of resources names in notes for that week. The sources named here might come from Wikipedia articles, from books, or be the details of a film. An example can be seen, below, for the film Coneheads:


Barron, S. (Director). (1993). Coneheads. Written by Tom David and Dan Akroyd. DVD Version Warner Home Video, 2004.


Students can copy the reference from the resource list and use these in the Journal when talking about a film or story. The order of the citation is: Writer or director, Year, Title, Publisher, and Place published. Please see the teacher-librarian if you are unsure how to use these resources and how to cite them in the Journal or an essay.


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