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What teaching work do you love the most and how can you do more of it? In this blog post, we’ll see how one GSU professor revised her online course to bring more of herself and her fellow experts into their learning community. Working with CETLOE, Dr. Deirdre Oakley found more time to create unique learning experiences for her students while still providing them with the support they needed to excel in their studies.

When I first met Dr. Oakley, I interviewed her about her experiences teaching SOCI 3390: Critical Lens on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Dr. Oakley and her co-teacher Mr. Tyler Gay filmed interviews with experts in their field to bring a wide range of voices into their classroom. These short interviews complemented reading assignments showing students how experts talk to each other about different topics. This experience prepared students to become active participants in the conversation. By sharing the stories of others and demonstrating sociology at work, the course made highly effective use of video.

The "DEI in Context" activity is a weekly podcast between an instructor and someone working in the field.

On the other hand, Dr. Oakley was less excited about her traditional lecture videos. Some students reported appreciating her high-level summaries of the readings, but others didn’t watch them, and still others watched them instead of doing the readings. The high-effort video format wasn’t the best investment of Dr. Oakley’s effort and expertise. After talking through the situation with me, Dr. Oakley decided instead to provide students with ungraded study guides. These easy-to-write exercises supported students in engaging more deeply with the readings instead of offering a redundant alternative to the readings. Dr. Oakley’s revised media strategy gave her time to integrate Afrofuturist short stories into her course. Rather than duplicating information found in the assigned reading, Dr. Oakley focused how she could create unique learning experiences for her students.

The Reading Companion page offers students advice on getting the most from their reading assignment and provides a download link for the reading guide.

As an instructional designer and former literature teacher, I was thrilled to work with Dr. Oakley to explore new opportunities for the course. When we identify what’s working well in a course, we often find that those parts of the course are also the most popular with students and instructors alike. For example, with the support of instructional designer Mr. Jeremy Speed-Schwartz, Mr. Gay revised SOCI 1160: Introduction to Social Problems to incorporate a guiding narrative throughout the course. Now, students develop skills in analysis and advocacy by roleplaying as part of a fictional Atlanta Social Problems Policy Institute. This semester, the CETLOE team will continue to develop methods and resources to help to meet the needs our partners in the sociology program.

Mr. Gay starts the course effectively with a welcome announcement that uses text and video to introduce students to their fictional policy institute.

If you’re an instructor in the sociology program, talk to Dr. Oakley about trying out the new sociology starter kit built with CETLOE’s instructional and multimedia designers. Whether you teach one of the four sociology courses we’ve recently worked on or you are just interested in finding new ways to spend more time doing the parts of teaching you love, CETLOE is here to help.

The Sociology Starter Kit offers ready-to-use resources and templates to support your work in iCollege.

Photo: Jared Jones
Dr. Jared Jones is a Instructional Design Specialist at CETLOE. In his free time, he socializes.