My project – end of course post

I have had the pleasure of being part of this Innovation Institute as a Global Fellow. Also, I have been able to use the equipment in the GDC to join the Institute.  Unfortunately my computer microphone could not be fixed despite the best endeavors of Daniel and so I have been able to join the Institute via smartphone and a great app called BlueJeans.

I have long been very interested in using the power of technology to increase the quality of my teaching and the learning environment of our students. My students have responded very favorably to the use of SKYPE in my classes to bring in guest speakers.  Last semester I tried one week of ‘flipped classroom’ and will be analyzing the survey I gave to my students to see how I can improve on this method of teaching. My husband’s PhD is in the use of gaming in education and so he is a great source of new thought for incorporating technology into my classrooms.

It was very helpful for me to be able to learn more each day from the live discussions and our homework reading.  I look forward to being able to continue to collaborate with the Fellows and draw on help from Julie at CTE and Instructional Technology staff.

My project is to bring the world into my classroom in the sense of having ‘visiting Faculty’ and foreign students linking with my class.  The class lends itself very well to Global networking because it is a required course in Criminal Justice called Comparative Legal Systems. In this class we explore the different criminal law systems of our world which include common law, mixed law, sharia law, soviet law and civil law.  We discuss the way in which the legal system operates as well as policing and corrections. My teaching aim for this course is twofold:

  1. To collaborate with Bill Clabby in bringing professors of law or criminal justice from our Partner Universities into our classroom to teach my students ‘their legal system’.
  2. If possible, to set up collaborative learning between my students and students of the guest lecturer.

A further hope is that I might ‘repay’ my guest lecturers by teaching for them by setting up a discussion between us as Faculty and our students.  My great hope is that our students can work together in cross international campus groups.

I taught the course in Fall 2013 and have to re-design part of it to incorporate guest lectures. The students did group work and so I have to find a way of extending those groups across cyber space.  When I return to Campus I will be looking for help from IT on whether this can best be achieved by blog, blackboard, wiki, social media or in combination. Having been reminded by Jason and Bob of how well their course using blog and twitter went I think that combination may work well. I feel positive about this project subject to Bill being able to find me collaborating partners. I do have legal contacts around the world and will fall back on them for guest lecturers, if necessary. However, this will be a better project if we can pair with partner Universities.

In addition to the project for which I have been awarded the Fellowship, I have been inspired by the Institute to implement a change which I was considering to my Summer II Human Rights and Human Trafficking class.  I use project based learning in this class but believe that a semester long project of the type that my students developed in Spring would not be suitable for a short summer course. Therefore, I have decided to design a semester long project which is inquiry based and created by collaborative learning in student groups. The class will create two websites – one dedicated to research on Human Trafficking and the other to research on the Human Rights issues which they chose from those which I propose. These will meet the general SLOs for the CULF 3331 course and also give the students a chance to ‘make a change’ by raising awareness of problems and create a lasting resource for educators and students. I will incorporate these websites into the work done by students in my longer semester classes so that it is an ongoing resource.  The website will incorporate a blog and I will be using blogging assignments.  Also, I will be encouraging students to explore twitter and follow scholars and activists who tweet about the subject in which they are interested. Currently, I think I am going to ask student groups working on the Human Rights website to select from the following topics for their research and postings:

  1. Women in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan – this will cover the recent ‘honor killings’, changes to the rape law and will enable the students to dig deeply into the cultural underpinnings, education and poverty aspects of these issues.
  2. Human Rights and technology – we are discussing ‘net neutrality’ around the world but what about 3D printing, being able to access the net for education, robots, drones and the possibility of singularity. How does technology shape our thinking about human rights. In 2011 it was agreed that access to the net is a human right.
  3. Bangladesh – rising sea levels threaten to overwhelm this extremely populous country. Already, the salt from the sea is destroying coastal rice fields. But rising seas are not the only threat to the land – dyes from the clothing businesses which meet the needs of western society are release onto farm land without regulation. From factory collapses to factory fires this country is a case study for globalization and social justice.
  4. Brazil and Qatar are to be host to the Soccer World Cup but at what cost to citizens and guest workers alike. This inquiry will enable students to think about the social justice issues surrounding poverty and wealth in both countries. The Favelas of Rio are lawless, self-regulating places into which the poor crowd. Street children are at the mercy of pimps, tourists and gangs. Slavery in the ranching system and steel making of Brazil has begun to be documented. Students will be able to explore the complex issues of poverty, global economy and BRIC(S) in this element.

I hope that this method of teaching will inspire the students to want to continue to know more and have a life-long commitment to understanding how the world works and the impact of one society’s actions upon others. I have certainly been inspired by this Fellowship and hope to continue to use and develop the tools I have learned to improve the education which my students receive.

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