In the Spotlight: Soc 1102-Urban Sociology

Header image for Urban Sociology. Features the silhouettes of two people walking alongside the East River waterfront at dusk.

This week, we spotlight Professor Kim’s OpenLab course on Urban Sociology. The course offers wonderful examples of how to use the OpenLab to support multimodal learning.

First, notice how Professor Kim breaks up the information on the course site into manageable chunks. The home page features a picture that Professor Kim has taken (all the pictures on the site are taken by Professor Kim!) and a brief course description. The syllabus is broken up into five smaller pages for course objectives, course requirements, course policies, a weekly schedule and FAQs. The FAQs are a very nice touch: they explain how students will be using both the OpenLab and Blackboard for their coursework, with screenshots of how to use the latter. Note that Professor Kim also includes main menu items for Readings, Study Guides, and Assignments.  This lay-out is straightforward and keeps the content of each page brief.

Second, Professor Kim puts place-based-learning into action on this course site. This course in Urban Sociology grounds itself in assignments focused on Downtown Brooklyn, where City Tech is located. This is an excellent way to illustrate course themes in real time, with a real and relatable place.  Course topics such as gentrification, the new economy, and the development of urban universities (sometimes called “studentification”) are all observable from the windows of City Tech buildings. But Professor Kim also invites students to examine images of downtown development posted to the OpenLab, read accounts from local papers, reflect on how they have seen the neighborhood change over the course of the past few years, and simply walk down the street for “field trips.” These are all wonderful ways of leveraging the OpenLab to foster multimodal teaching and learning.

Third, I draw attention to Professor Kim’s Writing: Dos & Don’ts page. If you are grading students on writing, it is important to give clear and comprehensive guidance for what you expect of a good paper. Different faculty have different expectations, and students have no reason to know what kind of citation style you require, whether you prefer paraphrasing or direct quotations of primary sources, or what kind of tone you expect in scholarly writing. Professor Kim has laid out expectations and linked to writing guides and videos. These are all good practices. With so much variation among classes, it is helpful to offer students technical and not just substantive support in writing their papers.

All in all, Professor Kim’s OpenLab course on Urban Sociology illustrates several best practices in place-based and online learning. Check it out for inspiration!

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