Soomo Publishing has some neat online tools that can supplement courses in international relations and American politics. They have a US Politics textbook, and then for both fields that have a neat set of supplementary exercises that are worth considering for intro classes. For IR, they have ‘Between Nations’, a collection of video- and primary source-based assignments that can be mapped to a number of leading textbooks. Each assignment includes a video clip or two or an excerpt (from the Leviathan, or the Melian Dialogue, etc) relevant to a major concept or issue in international relations. The students then answer questions about the assignment–either multiple choice or short answer. There is a gradebook that records their answers. The assignments are also fully customizable and you can add your own into the system. It costs $25 for students.
I’m trying it out for the first time in in my introductory class. Each week the students have to complete one or two of them prior to class, and my hope is that the exercises will help familiarize them with the concepts so that class discussion is richer. While in general I think that the short answer questions are better, I’ve chosen to use the multiple choice questions because they are automatically graded with no effort from me. I’ve assigned 15 of these throughout the semester, but included a few extra that students can do for extra credit if they wish.
My hope is that, as a supplement to simply reading about IR, these exercises will result in a better learning process for the students in addition to enriching class discussion, but I will report back in a few weeks on whether my expectations are met or not.