Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Procrastination As Excellent Inspiration for What May Be a Very Cool Course

Ok, so I've been working solidly on my online class. People, what can I say? All this time I've spent not working on it? Totally awesome! Indeed, I do believe that in the back of my procrastinating brain ideas have been percolating! The course design - it goes swimmingly! I'm super-interested in what they'll be reading (have spent the morning doing reading questions to guide their analysis), I can totally see the connections to the lectures that I'll put up about interdisciplinarity and writing and methodology and such, and hell, I feel like I'm going to learn a ton over the course of the semester!

Of course, these are all famous last words, probably. But seriously: I don't think I am in nearly the bind I imagined I was. I think I'll be able to finish the reading questions by around 1 PM (ETA: 12:30 PM and the reading questions are finished! I just need to type them into documents!), and then I can move to doing the power points and lecture notes that I'll need to go in super-prepared for my meeting tomorrow with Tech Guru. The only major challenge that I should encounter is being able to get all of the movie stuff figured out between this afternoon and tomorrow, as I'll be teaching four films I've never taught before in this course, and really, I can't possibly hope to watch them all tonight. That said, I don't really need to do so, as long as I have all of the movies available to put onto the course website tomorrow. (Also ETA: The films that I needed to get from Amazon just arrived! Huzzah! So a slight change in plans: Am going to school so as to get the other films from the library, and then will watch the films while working on the typing things in as well as doing some questions for guiding the viewing of those and some lecture notes about them. Ah, multitasking! Huzzah!)

So anyway, you may be wondering what this course is. Well, it's not a course for my department. Instead, it's an interdisciplinary course that will serve another major on campus, the goal of which is to have them work in a sustained way on interdisciplinary approaches to research. The theme of the class is "social class," and so they'll be reading four books, and watching four films. The rest of the course will be devoted to strategies for integrating research across academic disciplines and to how to write using a multidisciplinary approach and methodology. The class will include one major paper, a portfolio assignment, and three blog posts to a class blog (and they'll have to comment to other classmates' blog posts on weeks when they're not posting). It will be a lot of writing for them, and a fair amount of reading/grading for me, but all in all, I feel like it's a completely manageable amount of work for all of us.

The one thing that still nags is that I'm going to miss the freewheeling nature of how discussion and lecture works in my traditional classroom. I am hoping that the class blog will go a long way toward facilitating a version of that - I mean, we have freewheeling discussions here, right? - but it still won't be the same as what happens in the in-person classroom. I find myself wondering about how I can be funny or encouraging in writing without them misreading me as mean and demanding. How do I create an online teaching persona that reflects my offline teaching persona without losing something? But then I wonder what I might gain from this experiment in going online with a class. How will it influence my "regular" teaching persona, if at all?

At any rate, I just thought you all might like a less whiny and bitchy post to move the whining and bitching of the past two down the page a bit.

(I am totally getting excited to get back in the classroom. This semester will be awesome! Yay!)

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