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As of now

December 17, 2008

The semester has ended.  I continued to work on my communication class incorporating PBS Newshour videos in it.  The videos are used at the end of the semester for assessment.  The turn around is very quick.  I download the videos from the website for about 15 minutes of news, write tests for them, and use them in class.  Students have access to the news sites, and I encourage them to watch the news during the second half of the semester including PBS by giving them some short summary assignments.  PBS has some extended shows that allow the students to get used to the speakers, and the news is current. 

I have tried different ways of getting the video in class.  In the spring semester, I recorded them from tv to a dvd.  The quality of the video was good, but I couldn’t cut anything because I don’t have the software to edit video from a dvd.  I hope to learn how to do this in the future.  I now download the video from the site, which gives me a flash video file, convert it on my PC at work into a Quicktime movie file, and edit it, basically splicing two files together.  The problem with these files is that the lip synching is off. 

I still do the TED movies at the beginning of the semester.  I would like to add more, but I am not sure which ones.  For example, I would like to add Philip Zimbardo’s talk on “How Ordinary People Become Monsters…or Heroes,” but he talks fast and the pictures of Abu Ghraib may be too much for some students.  Still after reading his book, The Lucifer Effect, I think the talk raises important points. 

Another video that I used came from a student suggestion.  The video, The Story of Stuff, led to some good discussions and looks like it will be useful for future classes.  However, I would like to fit it into class without giving a test on it.  Perhaps it can be used with a theme of sustainability which has become a buzz word and initiative on campus.  Perhaps, it could be used to initiative a project for the semester.

At the end of the semester, I feel kind of drained of ideas, but I am already beginning to look forward to the challenges of next semester.  One challenge I hope I don’t face is the hours I spent this semester on our Learning Management System, Angel, which lost links to tests and needed constant time consuming attention as various bugs emerged.  I would love to have a few of those hours back for class planning.


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