Martina McGhee, a doctoral candidate and teaching fellow in Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, designed a curriculum that uses a new form of media and technology to enhance the learning experience.

“As an educator, creating opportunities to access knowledge that is free and easy to access is import to me; textbooks are very expensive.” McGhee said. As a result, McGhee designed a course where the podcast, National Public Radio’s (NPR) “Code Switch,” replaces the textbook.

Students who have taken African American Studies (AAS) 4013 and Race and Identity through Pop Culture, commented on the new experience. Michaela Reynolds, a junior psychology major said, “It was the first time I felt that what we were learning was going to affect my everyday life.”

“It was the best class I have taken in my academic career,” Bobbi Smith, a junior psychology major added.

This class was not only an exercise in cutting-edge curriculum design, but McGhee was able to combine her passion for helping students’ converse about difficult topics such as, “how race and culture permeate major issues in the news.” The episodes have sparked an active discussion that students across all disciplines can listen to every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9 a.m.

As students researched class discussion topics, they were required to connect with people outside of the classroom through social media. The students started conversations on Twitter with the “Code Switch” team and different guests were featured on the podcasts. When “Code Switch” heard about this UTSA course, they decided to fly down and record an episode here at UTSA. On the last day of the Fall 2018 semester, five members of the NPR team flew to San Antonio from the District of Columbia and Los Angeles to meet with the class. Their interactions were recorded and formed the basis of this week’s listening party, “Code Switch Goes to College.”

On Feb. 27 at UTSA, four students formed a panel along with McGhee for a podcast listening party punctuated with discussion. The audience listened to the Dec. 18, 2018 episode of “Code Switch” and heard from the students about their experience in the course.

A resounding remark of the students’ was that the dialogues started in class led to personal growth and impacted their day-to-day lives.

Marcus McPherson, a senior education major said, “This class made me feel more comfortable talking to people I wouldn’t normally talk with.”

As UTSA is working towards being a more inclusive campus, where students can understand and be understood, dialogue is going to play a key role. “College is supposed to have these experiences, but we don’t often have those conversations,” Reynolds said.

For students interested in learning more about these topics and how to discuss them appropriately, UTSA announced the opening of the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality Studies (REGSS) within the College of Education starting in the Fall of 2019.

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