Open Education Resources – why re-invent the wheel if you don’t have to?

Increasingly video sharing platforms like Youtube and Vimeo are featuring lectures by well-known scholars, experts in their fields. I have linked a few of these lectures to different seminars in the new WordPress blog page I have developed for the Contemporary Latin(o) Americas subject for launch in late July, 2014 (Spring semester). This saves me time (less video lectures to prepare) and also students (and I) get access to the knowledge of leading international experts. So rather than re-invent the wheel, take the existing wheel and stick it on a new vehicle.

For example, for Week 3- Independence, Nation-State Formation and Modernisation, I have embedded a lecture from the public domain (Library of Congress) delivered by Professor Eric Van Young at the University of San Diego: In Mexico there are no Mexicans: Decolonization, Modernization, 1750-1850 with the following key words – independence, decolonisation, modernisation, modernity, citizenship, social stratification (problems of decolonisation, nation formation, national belonging, citizenship). I have labelled the various sections/themes thus: 21.00-52.10;46.00-50.30 (social decolonisation – citizenship, racial-social stratification); 50.30-52.10 (economic decolonisation – neocolonialism, dependency); 52.10-55.00 (cultural decolonisation – cultural redefinition after independence); 55.00-1.14.35 (citizenship and race, indigenous peoples, the problems of writing history). In this way students can go directly to the section that interests them and which may be relevant to a particular assignment they are working on. I am acquainted with Professor van Young and he is thrilled to have his lecture connected to this subject and consents to its use.

Similarly, for Week 8, Mexico: From Revolution to Narco-War, I have embedded a video lecture found from the public domain (Library of Congress) by Professor William H. Beezley from the University of Arizona – Mexico in World History. Once again, I have chosen a specific section of that video – 10.40-46.52 – and then indicated at which minute Beezley begins to talk about certain key words: nation-building, “indigenismo”, Vasconcelos (Minister of Education after the Mexican Revolution), revolutionary culture, race, popular music, popular art.

For Week 2, From Conquest to Colony, I have chosen a 21-minute online lecture by Melinda Cole Klein from Palomar College, San Marcos California ( ) on PreColumbian America and Iberian Exploration, which deals with Atlantic exploration and colonization from the late fifteenth century. Klein has consented to her Youtube lecture being linked to the subject.

For Week 5, The Rise of the USA and its History of Interventions into Latin America, I have chosen as a recommended reading:, which can be found at Primary Source World online. Primary Source World is part of the Open Education Resources Commons project. There (to quote the blurb): “you’ll discover new resources for globalizing your curriculum and enhancing your teaching. This site features teacher-created, classroom-ready activities designed around key primary sources, including written documents, artefacts, audio clips, visual evidence and much more. Each cluster of sources includes key questions, objectives, and a background essay to help you teach the activities with confidence and infuse more global content into your curriculum”.


Refining group work

I had a very productive phone chat today with Simon Housego from the Institute for Interactive Media & Learning at UTS. I want to integrate SPARK into student assessment. SPARK facilitates not only  student peer assessment, but also self-assessment. This subject has a group work assignment. It was trialled first time last Spring. it was moderately successful (not as successful as the individual component of the assignment). Simon suggested I peruse the IML guide on group work at the IML web site. It has proven highly valuable. The site gives you the lowdown on topics such as designing group work, preparing students for the experience, helping them form into effective groups, monitoring their progress, etc. I confess my ignorance on group work organisation before reading the guidelines. Many things I took for granted need some meditation! However, looking back to last Spring, I think I at least chose the best (least contentious) way of getting students to form into groups without being overbearing: I got them to choose research topic first and then matched them to research groups that way. Of course that is just the beginning. To find out more, read this: