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Peer Review

The Society Pages

by Douglas Hartmann


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Sep 08, 2015 by Sociology Editorial Board
Overview: This portal offers a wealth of information to help students develop a sociological imagination! The editorial team at the University of Minnesota, Department of Sociology, maintains a blog tracking social science research, podcasts featuring leading social scientists talking about their research, and an editorial function. The portal also includes a series of blogs relevant to various topics--Sociological Images, ThickCulture, Sexuality and Society, Graphic Sociology, and Sociological Lens (affiliated with Sociology Compass), to name a few. The Society Pages likewise hosts the online version of Contexts magazine. Instructors and students will find an abundant amount of useful information here. This is a portal well worth a few days of exploration!
Type of Material: This portal is a collection of websites and blogs, as well as learning objects.
Recommended Uses: If you are looking for current issues to address in your courses, this is a great first stop. There is so much material to choose from that will capture the attention of learners. This site can have wide usage. It would be a valuable tool in classroom presentations. It would help students with homework or with various assignments. It could be used by individuals or teams. More active participation is possible, as well. For example, a blog post of an article at the site could serve as a basis for an online discussion among your students--a great way to get them to begin dealing with controversial issues. They also have podcasts and a variety of instructor resources with ideas for assignments.
Technical Requirements: HTML/text. IE views the pages well, as does Firefox.
Identify Major Learning Goals: According to the site: “The Society Pages’ mission is to bring social scientific knowledge and information to broader public visibility and influence.” Students using this site will have access to information on a wide range of topics. Specific learning goals will apply to individual pages.
Target Student Population: This collection of resources is appropriate for high school and college level users. The target audience for this website is everyone who is interested in understanding social life.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Some sociological background would be helpful in approaching some site content, but the portal requires no prerequisite knowledge or skills.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This is an excellent collection of resources to spark the sociological imagination. The home page is coherently organized to assist users in site navigation. For example, in the Citings and Sightings section, students can post journal and news items of interest to social scientists. The Sociological Images section incorporates visuals to explain social science ideas--graphs, photos, etc. In looking for interesting material to encourage students to participate in online discussion boards, this would definitely be the first site to visit. Additionally, many areas include instructor resources with sample assignments.
Concerns: Like any large site, it is sometimes difficult to monitor all content. Obviously, quality will be uneven in places. It is important to make certain you review, and maybe even pick how you want students to interact with the website.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This site has a wealth of information that assignments could address. In fact, some of the sites suggest assignments to be used with the information. It is entirely possible to design a complete introductory sociology course around readings, podcasts, and assignments from this website. Students will find topics relevant and engaging.
Concerns: There is so much material provided here that some users may suffer “information overload.” Some concepts are not addressed at a beginning level.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This is an attractive, well-designed portal that allows for easy navigation to component sites.
Concerns: Faculty should be careful not to overwhelm students with the magnitude of the site. Guided instructions would be helpful.

Other Issues and Comments: Caution: This portal accesses so much fascinating information that users will likely get caught up and spend hours here.