INTERNET RESOURCES FOR TEACHING URBAN SOCIOLOGY
The spread of internet use and the availability of a wide range of information posted on the internet makes it necessary to present at least some aspects of internet use as a teaching tool. At the end of this section you will find a list of recommended and most used web sites, however first we would like to show you what some professors have already done and how they have made use of the internet in their classes. The advantages of this personalized approach are to present real-life educators and how they have organized their teaching tools. This, we believe, will humanize a bit the advanced technology usage and give the reader the option of learning from the experience of others, as well as the opportunity to contact them with questions.
1. As the first example of professional and extensive classroom use of the Internet we would like to present what Dr. Chris Toulouse firstname.lastname@example.org, an assistant professor at Hofstra University, has accomplished. Chris teaches urban sociology by also teaching his students to prepare their own web pages and make city profiles on the web.
In using his methods, Chris says, students have much to gain because they are learning about cities and at the same time acquiring searching, site-reading, and page-making skills. The state of campus labs, student computer phobia, and colleagues misgivings about the academic utility of web-based work are among the hurdles that must be overcome. Working solutions to all these problems can be found through Chris's online mini-course called "Internet Skills for College Students". The mini-course allows students to do internet exercises and quizzes from their home computers (where they are more comfortable than they are in campus lab) and takes them through a program of tutorials designed to ensure that they can meet clear and rigorous standards.
The second part of the project is made of the best student pages, make sure to check them out: this is what students have accomplished using the techniques they learned in the course. There are two sections here: one is Social Issues Resource pages, where students chose a particular important social issue like abortion or euthanasia and created their own web page with links to the sites they found most important dealing with the issue. Then come the City Profiles, where students used the internet to create a city profile, outlining the most important information about the cities they found online.
The third part of the project is actually helpful for college professors, who would like to learn the first steps in posting their course information on the web, what kind of technical resources they need to have, how to get connected, how to use HTML formats themselves.
2. As a second example of integrated internet use for classroom purposes we present the Social Science Data Analysis Network, prepared by Dr. Bill Frey (email@example.com) and his staff. The Internet has become an important source for US and international data. Dr. Frey's SSDAN exemplifies one very accessible and easy way to show your students the latest social trends in US just about any topic of classroom discussion, based on 1950-1990 census data and 1999 Current Population Survey. SSDAN makes the latest US census surveys and demographic trends accessible to educators, policymakers, and students at all levels. SSDAN staff is also prepared to provide you with custom tailored datasets, if data is not available for a certain topic.
The creators of the SSDAN project seek to make empirical data analysis explorations an available, and desirable component in introductory social science courses. SSDAN combines engaging course material on American society with basic data analysis exercises. By integrating theory and method in an active learning setting, these courses illustrate that quantitative reasoning skills are relevant to social issues. Furthermore, the exercises prepare students for applied upper level courses and careers that utilize data analysis skills.
The best feature of SSDAN is that students can themselves select topics and assess social groups' standing and the relationships between groups in a user friendly data environment.
Educators can download course-tested exercises to use in their own classes. One such exercise is Social Inequalities, where current and projected data is used to examine cohort differences among members of various race/ethnic groups, as they grow older in order to identify possible political and policy implications. Data from various states and metropolitan areas can be compared.
Educators, who would like to apply this innovative resource of teaching can get a free trial of the StudentCHIP software off the site - www.ssdan.net.
Professor Bill Frey himself recommends also:
- The Census (www.census.gov ), which offers a few web sites that will continue to be upgraded and useful more for students who will want demographic information for small geographic areas. One is the American Factfinder (http://www.factfinder.census.gov.) It will be the main way for users to access the current and new census data.
- The Population Reference Bureau (www.prb.org) is also a useful place to find contemporary and over time data.
- The SSDAN and PRB are jointly sponsoring Ameristat ( http://ameristat.org/ ).
3. Especially useful from the point of view of urban sociology is Virtual Laboratory in Racial and Ethnic Stratification and Inequality(http://vlab-resi.tamu.edu/vlab.htm). The information available on the site is provided by the Department of Sociology and the Race & Ethnic Studies Institute, Texas A&M University. This web site offers Computer Simulation of Residential Segregation Dynamics, where a program called SimSeg simulates the dynamics of residential segregation by ethnic and socioeconomic status. SimSeg program simulates social processes that create and maintain residential segregation between ethnic and socioeconomic groups in urban areas. SimSeg was first developed to use in the classroom to help illustrate principles relating to theories of residential segregation.
There are also Maps of Segregation in US Metropolitan Areas, SegMaps, which is a browser-based program for exploring and comparing patterns of residential segregation by race and ethnicity in metropolitan areas of the United States. A site uncomplicated yet intriguing for the user, who can select from several metropolitan areas and view ethnic population by tract for 1980 and 1990, white, black and ethnic change between 1980 and 1990. There are concentration rings drawn from CBD at about 5 miles so that we can see the distance at which the ethnic changes take place.
Also, on this site you can find InterGen, a program for exploring the impact of status inheritance dynamics on the persistence of ethnic inequality. While the program is grounded in quantitative models of status attainment and inequality, it is geared to presenting the model and its implications in easy to understand, graphical formats. For example, the program uses flow graph diagrams to depict status attainment models.
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4. Many university and college professors use the Internet mostly to post their syllabi and to refer students to appropriate web sites. Professor Robert Ross ( firstname.lastname@example.org) of Clark University not only has his Urban Sociology syllabus posted on the web, but his syllabus is also an excellent example of the diversified use of Internet resources. He has incorporated in the syllabus the web links he would like his students to go to, which is very convenient to have on line - students can just click on the links. Students can also see slide shows on metropolitan units, see the lecture slides on early urbanization, can directly visit map sites. The syllabus itself includes images of ancient and contemporary cities as well - http://www.clarku.edu/~rross/citiesandsuburbs/soc1252001cities.htm.
Professor John S. Pipkin (email@example.com ) of University at Albany's Geography and Planning Department combines the power of on-line resources with the strengths of Power Point Presentation software. His teaching approach is also multilayered and multidimensional, and here you can take a look at the best slide shows he has made available to his students.
Distinguished Professor John R. Logan (firstname.lastname@example.org ) of University at Albany's Sociology Department has also taken advantage of the students' access to the Internet. On this site, http://ss3f129.csbs.albany.edu/soc473, students of the course City Newcomers can find primary data to analyze, can follow people over time, and link the individual histories to neighborhood context.
5. Even though map-related web sites, both for software and for data, are increasing in number, the approach used by Professor Andrei Lapenis (email@example.com ) and his student, Jin-wook Lee, in creating http://es3f054.geog.albany.edu/gisapp/Index.html can be very useful for urban students. It is also relevant for future urban sociologists, because the application of GIS in urban research has recently attained a lot of attention. As a first step however, it seems advantageous for students to get acquainted with generating city maps without becoming GIS experts. The best advantage of this particular site is that students can learn about environmental issues and map them without detailed knowledge of computer cartography, just getting a 'feel' for it.
The web site links to an Environmental dataset for IUPGL (Integrated Undergraduate Physical Geography Laboratory), which is built for "multilane bridge" between different schools, programs and departments by linking together their environmental components. The Environmental dataset for IUPGL was developed for the students and scholars who are interested in environmental issues. It contains many raster/vector maps like topographic, hazardous sites, as well as demographic variables. The way of access to the site and how to go about generating a map is very similar to SSDAN: people can easily click the themes/variables and the geographic area they are interested in, then search the data and produce the map. The dataset present a broad idea of many environmental issues and can be used as a venue for further searching/discussing environmental resources.
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Last updated: 03/25/2001