Course Structure

The course is being taught in a hybrid or blended learning format, meaning that a substantial part of the course will be conducted on-line. Most weeks we will meet face-to-face once (normally Thursdays). In-person class sessions will be used primarily for discussion (sometimes to introduce conversation topics, other times to extend discussions begun on-line) and for student reports. Quizzes, assignment submission, chapter tutorials/lectures, and discussion forums will be done on-line. Exams will be taken in face-to-face sessions (usually Tuesdays).

University policies and deadlines (e.g., withdrawal deadline, safety information, disability support services information, honor policy) as well as course materials are available in Blackboard. You are expected to check Blackboard regularly for announcements. You should also be checking your VCU email regularly, as I will use that as a preferred method of communication.

As this is a partly online course, it is essential that you have reliable internet access, interest in maximizing learning in an online format, and ability to learn new technology as needed for course assignments, For help with technology problems, you can follow the links from the "Downloads & Help" tab in Blackboard or contact the VCU Technology Services Help Desk. If you have problems with your computer, you can use one of the computer labs on campus, including the VCU World Studies Language Learning Center (Hibbs Hall, room 424), which is well equipped for multimedia. If you complete work early, there will be time for you to troubleshoot any tech problems that may occur without missing a deadline. Technological problems are not valid excuses for turning in work late.


You will see a weekly schedule in Blackboard with due dates for assignments throughout the week.   Assignments will normally be submitted through Blackboard and will be available for a limited time, normally for 1 week past due date.

        PRESENTED CONTENT - readings, videos, tutorials

  • The starting point for each week's work is to read the assigned pages from the textbook.   You should then work your way through the online tutorials that accompany each unit.   The tutorials supplement the assigned readings through on-line lectures and other resources.   While reading and working with the tutorials, you should take notes on issues or questions you may have, so you can bring them up in class discussions. The tutorials also include self-correcting exercises that you should complete.   They are designed to help you retain the most important content from the readings and lectures.   As they function as formative assessments, you may answer questions more than once, and improve your score. For each chapter there will also be supplemental readings (available as PDFs in Bb), to extend and update content from the textbook - these will often be the basis of topics in the discussion forums. Short digital videos (usually in MP4 format) will also be used to illustrate topics covered in class.
  • There will be an on-line quiz at the end of each unit, normally one a week (usually due by Sunday).   These will be done in Blackboard.   They will be in multiple-choice format and will be timed.   There also be a take home final exam

      DISCUSSED CONTENT - presentations, class discussions

  • Regular attendance and in-class participation are required. There will be regular in-class discussions, activities, and exercises - all students are expected to participate. One absence for an emergency is permitted with no penalty. Each additional absence will result in a five-point deduction from this portion of the course grade. Being late to class three times will count as one absence.
  • Each student will do an individual and a group presentation. The individual presentation will be a "cultural profile" highlighting your own cultural background, about 5 minutes in length.   The group presentation (groups of 3 students, 15 minutes) will focus on a particular country/culture. The presentations can be done electronically or in class.

    GENERATED CONTENT - written forums, journals, papers

  • Each week students will engage with the material from that week's assignments through participating in discussion forums in Blackboard.   You will usually have several different topics to choose from. Normally the initial post to the week's forum will be due Thursday by class meeting time with follow-up posts (if applicable) due by Friday night.   The earlier in the week you post to the forums, the better, as that allows more students to read and react to your messages.  
  • Students will also engage with the course content through maintaining a personal reflective journal. The journal provides an opportunity to reflect on course materials and activities (readings, videos, discussions) as well as to describe personal experiences that intersect with the course content (films, personal encounters). In contrast to the discussion forums, the journals are personal and private by default.   At least two journal entries per week are expected.
  • Each student will complete 2 short papers (4-5 pages in length), which will provide an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained from the course to concrete cultural contexts.