I enrolled in the 2013 Summer Institute to improve my teaching skills based on the most recent pedagogical approaches and by listening and learning from other colleagues. Since I arrived at UCB in the fall of 2009, my various academic commitments during the regular semester and my archaeological fieldwork in Mesoamerica had prevented me from participating in the seminars offered by the FTEP. When I received the announcement for enrollment this summer, I did not hesitate and immediately sent my application, having heard about the high demand and limited number of participant slots.
In addition, this year the Summer Institute decided to explore the variety of internet tools available for transcending the physical limits of our classroom and transform our teaching space into a broader intellectual community through connection to the digital environment and social media. I can attest that I was not disappointed and this has been an eye-opening week for me.
From a pedagogical standpoint I had the opportunity to participate in discussions analyzing some of the more common problems that we all regularly face while teaching, and it was valuable to read materials that address misconceptions about the learning process. The most useful aspect of the experience was listening and exchanging experiences about common challenges with the other participants from a variety of disciplines.
During the week we interacted with experts from Information Technology and other colleagues who have mastered different social media platforms for use as powerful and versatile teaching tools. They shared their expertise with us in an interactive way that promoted ideas about how to maximize our teaching potential with the assistance of these new technologies. We were presented with Google Apps, Google Sites, Google+, Jing, Mendeley, etc. We learned how we can create very sophisticated webpages for our classes and professional e-portfolios along with them. We were introduced to Massive Open Online Courses through various platforms like Cursera, Audacity and Edx. We reflected on the new trends in education based on open access resources. I enrolled in a couple of courses, and I could speak about that experience with the group. I am now thinking seriously about how to create my online courses if the UCB decides to commit to this project. Regardless of the university’s plans, I will be using these new platforms to engage my students in discussion and critical thinking for my courses. These platforms will also help me to better use the resources that we have already at hand like D2L.
Next semester I will be teaching Disaster and Culture: Anthropological, Archaeological, and Historical Approaches to the Study of Catastrophes.
My main goals for this class will be:
- Identify the major categories of environmental hazards
- Question the false dichotomy between nature and society
- Distinguish key concepts: disaster, hazard and risk
- Formulate the causes of economic, social, political and environmental vulnerability
- Debate the processes of resistance and resilience
- Formulate how the study of ancient disasters assist us in DRR (Disaster and Risk Reduction).