Why I Teach HIS 273: The U.S. and the Vietnam War

Guest post by GCC instructor Bonnie Saunders

There’s a good chance that I taught the very first course on the Vietnam War, way back in 1984 (yes, I’ve been doing this for a while). I have no personal connection to the Vietnam War but I have had strong opinions about it, opinions that have mellowed over the years to a much more rational stance than in the past!

Throughout the teaching of this course I’ve invited Vietnam veterans to talk to my class about their experiences- everyone from the veteran who finally won the court case against the Pentagon for his injuries from Agent Orange, to a nurse who worked in a M.A.S.H. unit, to soldiers who couldn’t tell the difference between a regular peasant and a Viet Cong insurgent.

Despite the terrible consequences Vietnam veterans live with, many have returned to Vietnam to help the Vietnamese people. Some have relocated there permanently and spend all of their time doing humanitarian work. Despite the length of the Vietnam War and the bitterness that followed it, many American tourists now take spectacular vacations to that country.

In HIS273 I teach students to explore why and how the U.S. become involved in the Vietnam War, to examine the consequences, and to ask what we have learned from the experience. One of the most interesting exercises is a written dialogue assignment to write letters between two veterans, one from the Vietnam War and one from either the recent Iraq or Afghanistan wars (real people or invented veterans created from readings and research). Most importantly, I ask them to think about its relevance today, especially as we mark, in 2015, the 40th anniversary of the end of the conflict.

I enjoy teaching and discussing this subject, and I welcome any comments or questions at bonnie.saunders@gccaz.edu.


Timeless Strategies for College Success

By Dr. René Díaz-Lefebvre

photo of Dr. Rene Diaz-LefebvreIn a few weeks thousands of Arizona students will be embarking on one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of their lives, beginning a journey through the world of higher education. Exciting, daunting, challenging, and downright stressful may be adjectives permeating the thoughts of those seeking an avenue to pursue vocational dreams and become productive members of society. They will attend a community college, a public or private university, or other educational/vocational choices. Having worked with many students who have successfully maneuvered and completed college, I am often asked by parents and students for advice and recommendations in preparation for this life-changing opportunity. In this day of instantaneous information (e.g., Internet, Facebook, Twitter, apps, etc.), it is tempting to suggest to them that they review various websites and apps available for information and orientation on college and university life. Even college catalogs are a thing of the past. If you want your own copy of a catalog, you can download it from the institutions official website. Continue reading

14 New or Unique 2013 Summer & Fall Courses

At the start of each semester there’s a unique feeling on campus – a mixture of excitement and anxiety – from new students enrolling for the first time, and current students looking to create the perfect class schedule. For both groups, we offer the following ideas for fun, unique and sometimes unusual 2013 summer and fall classes:

If you’d like to use these classes for program requirements, we recommend you first check with a GCC advisor. 

When you’re ready to enroll, go to your Student Center at my.maricopa.edu. You can also call 623-845-3333 or stop by the Enrollment Center during open hours of operation.

NINE SUMMER CLASSES Continue reading

Wildcat Wednesday

By: University of Arizona
Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Time: 1pm-3pm
Location: SU 104 A, B & C
For Maricopa County students, Wildcat Wednesdays are the best way to get a taste for The University of Arizona’s campus without leaving the Phoenix area.  We are excited that you are taking the next step in your academic career and are interested in finding out more information about transferring to The University of Arizona.  For Maricopa County students, Wildcat Wednesdays are the most convenient way to get a taste for campus right here in your backyard.  Our next Wildcat Wednesday is around the corner and will feature presentations on: Continue reading

A Teacher’s Homework

As an online instructor, there is plenty to do each semester to get ready for the semester. First, all the online courses need to be updated and copied over to a new course shell. This year has an added task of moving the content over from an old LMS to a new one. Many GCC faculty, as well as faculty from 8 other colleges in the district will be moving courses over to the new LMS, Canvas, in the fall. Others will use the next year to make the change with everyone having moved by the start of Fall 2013. This is a big step for many, including myself, as Canvas is very different from Blackboard.

So for several weeks now, I’ve been updating online content and moving it over to the new system. There’s a lot of tedious cutting and pasting involved, but I’m also using this time to update assignments and lessons. After each semester I ask students to give feedback on the course and to offer suggestions for improvement. Now is the time to incorporate some of those suggestions, so I’ll be using this time to do that. I’m checking links and videos to make sure they are all still active, and I’m incorporating more of the online textbook materials into the course. Good technology is always changing, so I need to make sure I’m using the best available and not just doing the same thing each semester without thought.
With new technology and change I also have to keep the end user in mind, and that would be my students. As part of my preparations for the start of the semester, I have to find and create support materials for them. Learning the course content can be challenging enough, so I want to make learning the technology needed to complete the class as easy to learn and use as possible. This involves creating screencasts to show students how to use the LMS or the textbook supplemental materials or even how to do an assignment.
To keep up with all there is to do, I create a To-Do list to help keep me on track. Here is a modified version of my To-Do list created in Gmail Tasks.
Keeping a To-Do list is a great way to keep up with all the things you need to do to get ready for school. And it’s such a great feeling once you’ve completed the list and you know that you are ready for the start of a great semester.