A New Digital Repository for Sociology Instructors

The American Sociological Association has just unveiled Trails (http://trails.asanet.org/Pages/default.aspx), a digital repository where sociologists can post syllabi, lesson plans, bibliographies, and other teaching resources.   The site already holds more than 2,700 items, and its doors are open for new submissions.
Not every submission will be automatically archived. Materials will be assessed by peer-review committees for their fidelity to a set of principles of high-quality teaching that have been identified by the association. Committee members “are absolutely encouraged and empowered to turn down material,” says Margaret Weigers Vitullo, director of the association’s academic and professional-affairs program. But the process is not intended to be a roadblock, she says. “Our goal for the peer-review process is not only to sort out which materials belong in the repository, but also to promote a conversation within the discipline about effective teaching and learning.”
Because items published on Trails will be peer-reviewed, Ms. Vitullo hopes that some faculty members will be able to include them in their tenure-and promotion portfolios. “I think Trails can set up a model for promoting the recognition of the scholarship of teaching and learning,” she argues. “As Ernest Boyer said, faculty reward systems will need to be revised in order for faculty members to truly be rewarded on the basis of their scholarship of teaching.”
An annual subscription to the Trails site costs $25 for association members, $100 for nonmembers. It is not yet known if institutions such as the UCSD Libraries will be able to license or subscribe to the repository for the benefit of the campus community, or at what cost.

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