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June 11, 2008

Summer classes have flown by. We got to know each other and it seemed like the next day we were taking the midterm. The students are really great! We have tried a couple of things out. I have given out the links to the videos we are using before we take the classroom test. For some students, it seems to help, but for my repeaters, it has done little good. One student thought he could take three classes in the summer session, so I don’t think he has enough time to do the work. I hope he doesn’t need to repeat.

I have used two new videos this summer: Stephen Pinker’s “A Brief History of Violence” and Robert Ballard’s “Exploring the Ocean’s Hidden Worlds.” The students found the videos challenging, but they seemed to enjoy some of the challenge. I like the Ballard video more than Pinker’s because he is so enthusiastic. We also watched Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” on YouTube. With summer classes twice as long as semester classes and my usual presenter unavailable because she is teaching at the same time, I decided to use Pausch’s speech. Some students went back and watched it again. How can that possibly hurt their listening skills? The reaction papers have been very good.

Instead of considering finding and watching the videos outside of class as “cheating”, allowing them to watch the videos outside of class has given us time to listen to the NPR news summary often. The discussions have been good though I feel like a very poor discussion facilitator.

These experiences have balanced out the frustration of shifting nine classes to a new learning management system, Angel.

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