spea magazine


Faculty Advertures in Cyberspace!

In this column we ask SPEA faculty members to describe their relationship to the Internet, e-mail, and related gadgetry. This month we go online with SPEA associate professor Crystal Garcia.

crystal garciaWhat are your favorite work-related Web sites and why do you like them?
I have so many, it is hard to pick just one.  Here are the three I probably use most often:  www.ncjrs.gov. This is the National Criminal Justice Reference Center – a one-stop resource site that offers justice and substance abuse information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide.  

I use the NIJ Web site frequently. NIJ is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice.

I also frequent www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/, which is the Web site for the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).  BJS collects, analyzes, publishes, and disseminates information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government.

All three are invaluable in that they allow me to search for the most up-to-date statistics and research publications in the areas that I teach and research.  I use them almost daily!!

How has technology affected your teaching methods; what new technology do you include in your classes?
I used to shy away from using technology in the classroom.  Now I use it regularly, but I use it far more often in some classes than in others.  For example, my large special topics classes are usually fully electronic with pictures, video clips, and Web links embedded in them. Using technology in my large classes really helps me to keep the students interested and engaged.  I also believe that it assists me in reaching students that are visual rather than auditory learners.  In other classes, particularly my seminar classes, I only use Power Point.

In all of my courses I utilize Oncourse as much as possible. In particular, I use Oncourse for “Just in Time” quizzes, assignment submission, and as a means of communication with the class as a whole. Moreover, I typically set up discussion forums for my classes that have group assignments, though the students do not utilize them as much as they could.

Sometime in the near feature, I hope to try student response systems – some people refer to these systems as “clicker” systems.  They can be very helpful at engaging students and stimulating discussion.  Another benefit of these systems is that they allow the self-conscious student a means of answering questions with relative anonymity.

How has your work lifestyle changed as a result of the Internet and e-mail?
My work style has changed for both the good and bad due to the Internet and e-mail.  On the good side, I can provide quick responses to inquiries from students, work more easily with co-authors that live far away, and find information/research I need on the Web.  On the bad side, if I am awake, my computer is close at hand and I am probably logged into my e-mail.  So I feel somewhat tethered to my computer and my students often remark that it appears that I never sleep given my propensity to respond to e-mails at all hours of the day and night.

Where do you go to the Web for fun?
My Internet guilty pleasures are Overstock.com and Amazon.com!

What’s the one site you can’t live without?

I would feel lost without MSNBC.com.

Crystal Garcia is an associate professor at SPEA IUPUI. She specializes in the evaluation of community corrections programs and criminal justice technologies (e.g., school safety technology and digital photography as evidence), crime policy, and juvenile justice. Her PhD is from the University of California, Irvine.