Course Spotlight – SWK 305

Join CTL instructional designers and selected faculty as we take a peek into their quality online courses at UAF. Every month we will be presenting a new online course and hosting a Q/A session via Zoom. Have a look inside other courses on our course showcase page.

Dr. Retchenda George-Bettisworth is a Clinical Associate Professor and the Department Chair of the undergraduate Social Work program. She redesigned SWK 305 for the Canvas LMS, (a popular alternative to Blackboard) and this is its first semester running there as part of a UA pilot program to explore the potential of the LMS. The course benefits from the sleek, linear design of the platform, and Retchenda makes good use of Canvas’s sophisticated embedding tools and simplified discussion.

The course covers the history of how social welfare been conceptualized in the United States – from colonial times up until the present day. The readings and video resources (many from the awesome Kanopy video service, accessible through the UAF Library!) encourage students to think critically about the historical narrative and how it has portrayed disenfranchised groups. Students engage deeply with questions of race, class, gender, and ethnicity through a wide range of assessments, including mind maps, oral presentations, papers, and exams. Discussion is a key component of the course, and the prompts contain open-ended questions, which helps keep things interesting.

Many instructors building asynchronous online courses are worried by the thought of producing media content to match every minute they would spend lecturing in a face-to-face class. Retchenda manages to instill her course with instructor presence through the judicious use of simple webcam videos and short audio lectures. It’s effective and totally achievable!

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