Panelist: James Hirsch

 James Hirsch headshotAssistant Professor, Instructional Faculty

Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Department of World Languages and Cultures

Research Area (or Specialization):

Representations of HIV and queer resistance in the post-Stonewall Latin American Novel

Relevant course(s) name/number, approx. number of students, and short description

Spanish 201 – Intermediate Spanish grammar, 23 students

Teaching or learning problem/challenge that made you rethink your learning model or approach or try something new

I employ the flipped method, and need a platform that provides students easy access to various types of files (Word documents, PDF, videos, blogs), the online textbook as well as online homework. For now, I use Google Sites for all course content. However, they still need to to the publisher’s website to complete online homework and use the the e-text.

How you addressed that challenge (if applicable, what technology, learning strategy, etc. you integrated to do so)

I was able to create direct links from Blackboard Ultra to all outside websites. Blackboard allows the user to embed Google Drive documents and videos, but Sites still works better for my needs. The Blackboard context pages became cluttered fairly quickly. I believe that it is possible to synch WileyPlus and Blackboard, but that was not available to me during the trial period. I used the Calendar feature to give students a central location for all deadlines. Therefore, I used the “Course Content” page as a central location for links to all work.

How students responded, any challenges, and lessons learned

The entries that do not have a due date in the gradebook did not appear on the “due dates” page of the calendar, which is what I was hoping for. If you include a due date for exams, you must also enter the grade by that time (which, clearly, is not possible), or students receive an email telling them the work is late. There is not a global preference to correct this. Even though I linked to outside sites, students still found it easier to have a central location for content as well as grades. The use experience is much cleaner: there is far less clicking and fewer sub-pages. In the end, with the amount of content that I have, students found it easier to navigate Google Sites.