Hi everyone – welcome to Day 1 of the summer session of Geog 340 (World Regions in Global Context)! Please read the comments below before you do anything else regarding Geog 340.
First of all, welcome to the course! I love teaching Geog 340 and am thrilled to have it on offer to UW-Madison students (and I’m not just saying this!). Why do I say this? Well, I think, on the basis of discussions with hundreds of UW-Madison students that our K-12 school system and our universities do not do enough to ensure people know about most of the rest of the world outside of North America (mainly the US), Western Europe, and select parts of the rest of the world. This is becoming more and more of a problem in our increasingly interconnected world for YOU (more than anyone else in the history of the world) will be grappling with global challenges (e.g., climate change or global pandemics), traveling to distant parts of the world for work or pleasure (or both), and hearing about what is unfolding in various parts of the world (or dealing with discussions about global connections…the Boston Marathon bombing, and this weekend’s article titled ‘China’s Economic Empire‘ in the New York Times, being cases in point). And yet we (and I include myself here) actually have superficial knowledge about the staggering diversity that exists in the world’s regions. If there is one thing that you’ll take away from this course, it is the diversity lesson, I assure you (on the basis of what former 340 students have told me). The world’s regions are becoming more interconnected and interdependent, but this is merely generating a hybridizing process and outcome so it’s like a thousand flowers are blooming every day and we all need to know more to be effective global citizens.
Second, please (pretty please) download and read (really read) the syllabus. The syllabus outlines the objectives of the course, the desired learning outcomes I/we want you to achieve, the deadlines, the mark breakdown, etc.
Third, I know, from experience, that summer courses are both challenging and special. I’ve taught summer courses on and off since moving here in 2001 and I think students learn more because of the intensity of the learning experience. Indeed I would personally prefer it if we had a string of intense summer course-style experiences one after another versus the current semester system but what to do (I’m not the Provost!). BUT, and this is a big BUT, you have to ensure you print out the syllabus, and follow the schedule and rolling deadlines very closely. Each day is like a week in summer courses so if you fall two days behind it is like falling two weeks behind and that’s an unwise thing to do, as you no doubt know.
Fourth, and to be 100% clear, the two exams are only based on the course text. The assigned readings (ie not the textbook chapters) that go hand in hand with the lectures and podcasts are very important to do, and they help you do better in the exam (I guarantee that fact), but the multiple choice exams are only based on the textbook. In addition, please note we’ve been allowed to post chapters from the textbook for the Canada/US and Europe sections but that is it for copyright reasons.
Fifth, Samantha developed these very important guidelines regrading how to prepare for the two exams…basically, read and at the same time take notes:
Taking notes while reading is a good thing, but not all notes are created equal. Unfortunately, note-taking skills aren’t usually taught to us, rather we have to figure it out on our own. In general, you do not want to write down every detail. Notes should be something you can read quickly and have it jog your memory of what was read or said. Often, when students take detailed notes, they stop truly READING/LISTENING/COMPREHENDING and begin to just have it go in one ear and out the pencil tip. This style of “learning” will not work effectively for this class. For our class, some of the questions focus on detail, but many try to get at larger, conceptual ideas or push you to take these broader concepts and draw connections and conclusions across regions rather than just within one region (i.e., what is similar and different between regions and why). To study for these types of exams, you need to learn a specific style of note-taking that allows reading comprehension while writing key ideas to paper. Learning this skill will help you for this class, and also with jobs and other courses down the road. So, how do you learn this? It may take some time and effort on your part to figure out how exactly it fits best with your reading, memory, and learning style – however, here is a good way to get started:
- Read each sub-section of each chapter and at the end of each sub-section write a couple bullet points on the big ideas in the chapter. This way, when you read your bullet points, it will jog your memory of what that sub-section was about. You may not remember specific event dates, for example, but you will remember an important event happened and other things like that. For the exam, it may ask you that specific date. The good news is that you can quickly skim you notes, remind yourself the section that event is most likely discussed and find the correct answer rather quickly.
- By waiting until the end of a sub-section to take BRIEF notes, you are allowing yourself to focus on the text and then you force yourself to synthesize what you read at the end of the text. This ensures that you followed the story of the sub-section and understood it. If you can’t synthesize it the first time, re-read and find where you are getting blocked and be sure to focus on it. If you still are blocked, that means it is a “story” you should discuss with us at office hours to make sure you are understanding the importance of the text.
- To find connections across regions, re-read your notes. Each chapter is organized the same way, thus, your notes for each chapter should be organized the same way. Of course, more connections can be drawn than just what is in your BRIEF notes since notes are meant to jog memory of what you LEARNED. As you read and synthesize, you should be learning.
Sixth, and on a related note, the textbook is an excellent one (truly!). I’ve assigned it as the authors are very experienced fieldworkers and thinkers about global development issues. In preparing for the exams you’re learning about world regional geographies, though to prepare you need to take notes. Please remember this fact and start taking notes right away.
As noted in the syllabus, the course text this term will be World Regions in Global Context: People, Places, and Environments, 5/E by Sally Marston, Paul Knox, Diana Liverman, Vincent Del Casino & Paul Robbins, 2013. The 4/E is workable this summer session. I asked the publisher for some advice regarding various formats for the text so see below for his response. In addition, make sure you click on the ‘Pearson Choices’ tab when you link to the book title website above – this tab provides more information about format options (with big differences in cost).
Here are the options for the 5th edition, with isbns and net price.
I think option #2 is the best value option, since students get a print book with access to MasteringGeography and eText (which can be served up via apps onto iPad and Android tablets).
But there are also a few eBook options in the $65 range.
1) paperback book with the MasteringGeography + eText access kit: 0321824628 , $121.65.
2) binder reader (unbound) book with the MasteringGeography + eText access kit: 0321862295, $84.35 (I think this is best value)
3) CourseSmart ebook (no media access): $61.99. Order from here:
4) MasteringGeography + eText online purchase: students would go to below link. 0321860535, $65.
Note that any version where students also get access to eText via MasteringGeography, they can download our free eText app for iPad or Android tablets, to also access the eText from those devices. CourseSmart has similar app too.
Seventh, if you have any questions, email me and copy Samantha Greene, the TA. We’re here to help you out and support you. It is even more important, in an online course, to poke and prod your prof and TA as you can’t walk down to the front of class after a lecture and ask about this or that issue. No need to be shy, or reticent – email/call/send Skype connect prompts/etc., etc. We won’t bite – link here for more on me, and here for more on Samantha Greene – I assure you. And if we have not responded within 24 hours, please resend your message, OK, just in case it slipped through the email cracks.
In terms of the next few days, could you please:
- Download and read the syllabus.
- Ensure you have access to the course text – either an eBook or a regular book.
- Begin dealing with the first three sections as noted on the detailed schedule in the syllabus. You will note that there are deadlines on June 4, 5 & 6 at 10:00 pm.
Please ignore any references to “Geog 140″ in the Learn@UW course site materials – the course was upped to a 300 level course as the content is Intermediate level and I am still in the middle of updating the lectures and podcasts.
OK…I think that’s it for now!
I’ll be in touch daily and will be checking email every few hours this week so if you have questions or concerns ask away and I’ll response below in a Q&A section that I’ll update daily so you can all learn.
Q1: I just registered for the course and it takes 24-36 hours before I have access to the Learn@UW course site. Is there anything I can do right now, or is there anything I’ll miss?
A1: We expect this lag in access so just use your time to get hold of the course text (see above) and catch up once you have access to the Learn@UW site. You won’t get penalized so no worries.
Q2: Where is the Intro podcast located?
A2: If you mean the one by Kris, we removed it and you just need to read the above text. BUT you should still listen to the podcast interviews with three of the faculty who wrote the assigned course text. You access it by going to (a) the Course homepage, (b) Course materials by region, (c) Introduction to the course, and then (d) scroll down and you’ll see photos and podcasts in the Meet the Authors section. Listen to all three of them there.
Q3: I also just wanted to check and make sure I was reading the syllabus correctly that there are only 2 times anything actually has to be submitted on Learn@UW, in regards to Discussion Forums and Dropboxes, and the other nightly deadlines are just guidelines of what we should be reading/watching each day.
A3: Yes, you only need to upload things to the drop-box twice. The daily rolling ‘deadlines’ simply provide you with reminders of the flow of the course – remember that each day is like a week during regular term so you are strong (strongly!) advised to engage with the course content on a daily basis. I’ve watched few students, in the past, slide backwards and fall off the cliff – it is very hard to catch up. So try and deal with the material for each world region (consisting of the assigned chapter, lecture, podcast(s), periodic movie, and additional readings) daily (or nightly). I really can’t emphasize this point enough so if you are at all a procrastinator be very careful or you’ll feel the negative effects, I can guarantee it (sad to say). Online classes are funny in that they provide you freedom and flexibility but with that comes an enhanced need for discipline and self-governance…they two go hand in hand.
Q4: Are the exams only based on the textbook?
A4: Yes, only the textbook. But, and this is a big but, all other elements of the course enhance your knowledge of the world’s regions so people who consistently work through all the other content consistently do better than they would, otherwise.
Q5: Will Chapter One be posted on learn@uw for accessibility until everyone purchases a book/e-text.
A5: Yes, we’ve done this for the first three assigned chapters but that’s all we can do (for copyright reasons). You can access them via the ‘Course materials by region’ part of the course site on Learn@UW.
Q6: What happens if I lose internet access in the middle of exam?
A6: Email both Samantha and myself immediately. Save your answers along the way, regularly…that helps. Then if you can’t restart we’ll sort it out together. But do save answers along the way and don’t risk saving them once, at the end. In addition, take the exam in a UW library or somewhere with solid stable internet service. And IF it looks like trouble is looming do a screen save/screen capture so we can see what happened when.
Q7: Where do we post the Introductions?
A7: See the syllabus for guidelines. And then go to the Learn@UW course site and to the Discussions tab at the top. It should be clear when you click on it.
Q8: When are you posting the first discussion question?
A8: Tomorrow (Tuesday).
Q9: Do we need to respond to the Introductions?
A9: No, but feel free to if you want to say hello, or make a comment (a friendly or interesting one, please!).