Getting a Taste of Hispanic Culture During Summer Sessions

Ana Gomez-Bravo is transforming her course into fully online Summer Sessions program to help increase access for students. 

One of the best parts of Summer Sessions at the University of Washington is that it’s open to everyone and can provide greater access to popular courses than during the regular academic year. As a result, Summer Sessions is the perfect opportunity for students to explore a new interest or enroll in a special course — like Spanish and Portuguese Studies professor Ana Gomez-Bravo’s new virtual iteration of Food and Community: Cultural Practices in the Hispanic World (SPAN 362).

When you have the kind of flexibility allowed by online learning, students don't have to choose between being home or making progress toward graduation.

 — Ana Gomez-Bravo

Gomez-Bravo has taught the course in person for three years. However, after experiencing significant enrollment increases when the course switched to remote learning during the pandemic, combined with the fact that SPAN 362 meets general education requirements in Individuals & Societies (I&S) and Diversity (DIV) Gomez-Bravo realized the course would be an excellent fit for Summer Sessions.

“The course is popular among students who want to make progress toward their degree and graduation,” says Gomez-Bravo. “Because the course has multiple designations, it’s accessible and relevant to students from various fields.”

Gomez-Bravo applied to collaborate with the UW Continuum College and their Learning Experience team to turn SPAN 362 into one of the fully online Summer Sessions courses offered by UW. 

“The summer is complex for students. I thought an online course would increase access for students. There’s a lot of students who work in the summer and quite a few that either live out of state, internationally, or who aren’t in the city of Seattle proper,” Gomez-Bravo explains. 

“Online learning allows students to skip the commute to campus and save time and resources during the summer. When you have that kind of flexibility, students don't have to choose between being home or making progress toward graduation.”

Since SPAN 362 itself is not new to Gomez-Bravo, the content of the course is well refined. But when it comes to the practical components that make the course possible online — scripting recordings, filming lecture videos, establishing the course format and structure, and more — Gomez-Bravo notes she relies on the experts at Continuum College. 

“Continuum College has been an excellent partner. We work very well together as a team to brainstorm ideas, from envisioning the course for distance learning to planning specifics such as meeting logistics,” she says. “The Learning Experience team within Continuum College is a really professional, highly organized group and I’m impressed by the volume the recording team powers through.”