I have been teaching in what is now referred to as a ‘hybrid’ environment for a few years, and I am going fully online this summer. I am quite excited about it – this is the FIRST history class that is being offered fully online at UCR, it is my first online class, and also my first summer session. Many firsts, and much to be enthusiastic about.
Online education has disrupted academia at a time when academia needs a shot of innovation. Students cannot sustain the debt levels an education commits them to, and academia owes them better access to education and path towards graduation. Online ed can provide flexibility to make this possible, all the while maintaining quality levels, and perhaps even improving on them.
I know this is heretical to some, but then again, so was Copernicus and look where we are now.
To be honest, it’s a lot of work to get a class online. I learned to use software to capture my screen content and do voice over narration as well as editing. I learned to accept the sound of my screen voice, and not recoil at my two-dimensional reflection when the camera is on me. I worked with an amazing instructional designer, with whom I am still working on stream-lining each element in the course, making sure each module flows seamlessly and that everything is as it should be.
The course is “Introduction to Latin American History” – an introductory survey I have taught quite a few times in a classroom at UCR. This summer (and next Fall), the class will be taught exclusively online. All the elements of the class are there – movies, videos, primary sources, quizzes, tests and assignments, and of course me. I am somewhat disembodied in the virtual version of the class, but students will still see me, and we’ll have opportunities for synchronous interaction (that’s online-ed speak for ‘together’) via a virtual meeting space.
The BIG advantage of the online Hist75 is that it includes a TA! This has never happened before and is a great addition to the curriculum. Students will have weekly discussion sections, but they will happen on google-chat. It might require some adjustment, especially for students who are not skypers or online chatters, but it is a minor adjustment with HUGE positive potential.
Enrollments just opened today to seniors – click here and you’ll see how many students have signed up for the accelerated 3-week session. As of right now, there are 94 open spots. If you are a UCR student and need -or- are interested the class, why not take it this summer? You’ll be part of the vanguard!
This summer the course is open only to UCR students, but as of next Fall – come one, come all!