Polisci Lounge

What we're talking about in PoliSci

Survey Time!

Next week we'll begin surveying students about their experiences using Soomo's webtexs. And as a bonus, students who complete the survey are automatically entered in a drawing for an iPad! Last semester's winner was a student at Monroe County Community College, so let your students know that we really do give away an iPad.

Fall 2012 Survey Responses

Student and professor feedback is very important to us because it helps us prioritize new content and feature development. Below are a few highlights from last semester's survey.
  • 77% of students indicated that subscribing and accessing their webtext was a "piece of cake," but 6% had to get help. (We've recently updated our subscription pages to make this process work more smoothly for students.)
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UN Human Development Report for 2013

waterdrinkerThe 2013 United Nations Human Development Report is out! This year's highlights include China's growing middle class, Brazil's rise in overall living standards, and a special feature on "The Rise of the South," which spotlights the remarkable development taking place in countries such as Indonesia, Mexico, and South Africa.

On April 8 there is a live webcast of the Columbia University Conference on the 2013 Human Development Report. The Plenary, "The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World," begins at 9:30 a.m. EST and is followed by three panels that start at noon. (As I'm publishing this post, I see that they're already streaming video while they get the room set up. So it appears that the technology is working.)

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Where's the Data?

SpreadsheetAt the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference last week, I attended a workshop called Navigating Data Resources: How to Teach Students to Find Data Sets. Presenters Mara Rojeski (Georgetown) and Annelise Sklar (UC-San Diego), both data librarians, are experts in helping students and instructors find data sets for their particular research interests. Here is the fantastically helpful list of data they put together (along with a few of my comments).

Web Resources

  • FRED (St. Louis Federal Reserve...

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The Global Governance Monitor

While researching new artifacts for assignments, I found this incredibleinteractive tool for monitoring international politics. My new favorite tool from The Council on Foreign Relations(which publishes Foreign Affairs) covers issues such as nuclear proliferation, climate change, public health, human rights, terrorism, and armed conflict. For each of these topics, users can view issue briefings, maps, timelines, overviews, relevant treaties, and even updates on current events. It seems like...

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Where in the World?

I'm always on the search for great ways to teach geography and today I found a cool mapping tool from National Geographic Education. Called MapMaker Interactive, it allows the user to create customized maps by selecting a map type (topo, satellite, street, etc.) and then layering on themes, markers, and even custom drawings. Themes are transparent layers that add information such as population density, religion, climate, language, etc. There's also a measuring tool so you can find distances...

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Cool Infographics: GDP Two Ways

Picture of blue circle representing U.S. GDPI was catching up on some reading over the weekend, and I came across these great infographics from NPR's Planet Money Blog. The two graphics present nice visualizations of GDP by country which are colored to indicate region. The first one sizes country bubbles according to their total GDP and the second one provides a dramatically different visualization by comparing per capita GDP. What do you think about pairing these infographics with theGINI indexto make an IPE assignment?

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Spotlight: Top 10 Assignments

Curious to learn which of our assignments are tops with professors? Well so were we. So we did some number crunching to find the most popular assignments used in both ourAmericans Governingancillary and our webtext, Central Ideas in American Government. The assignments with the highest number of student responses for Spring 2012 are listed below.

1) What Is the Purpose of Government?

2) Learn About Congress

3) Declaration of Independence- Any ideas why the Declaration is more assigned than the...

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Add New Assignments to Your Course

Soomo has so many sweet assignments that we can't fit them all into our standard collections. So, for your perusing pleasure, we've added a Quick Start Guide for Adding Assignments to our handy library of Quick Start Guides. The new guide will walk you through the process of using our easy-to-edit platform to add assignments from our catalog to your Americans Governing , Between Nations , or Comparing Governments course. You can even create your own custom assignments. Now if...

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Teaching IR Through Games and Films

At the ISA conference in San Diego, I attended a fascinating panel called, "Gaming and Films in the Teaching of International Relations." Participants presented papers on the various films, books, and games they use in their classrooms to illustrate key concepts in IR. The biggest takeaway for me was how innovative professors can be in reaching out to students to help them better understand the discipline.

Bethany Barratt, Associate Professor atRoosevelt University, presented one of my...

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