Intermediate Macroeconomics, one of our core gatekeeping courses, taught as a seminar to 40 students. Impending disaster? Trainwreck waiting to happen? Perhaps. But, I prefer to think of it as a possible answer to a question I’ve been mulling over for a number of years. I do a good job in intermediate macro, but it’s time for a facelift of sorts. The problem has been that with all the creative things I’ve been doing in my other courses, I haven’t found the time to prep a new macro course. It’s been easy to just fall back on the old lecture notes. It is a good course, after all.
One thing in particular that I’ve wanted to try is a new experimental text by Kevin Hoover, of Duke University. (Disclosure: Kevin is an old friend from college.) The book combines theory and analysis of real world data in each chapter. But I have never been able to find the time to read the text before the semester started..
I’ve decided to take the plunge and adopt the book. What I plan to do this coming semester is teach the course as a workshop to decipher the text. At a minimum, that should make the students read the text, something they’ve gotten away from in recent years. I will tell them upfront, I’m not going to lecture on this stuff, because I haven’t read the text yet! My plan is to have the students collectively tell me what each chapter says, and I will respond to any questions they come up with.
One thing they should appreciate is that the book is available for free in pdf format. And if this experiment bombs, at least I will be prepared to teach the course next year in a more traditional way, using the book.
Postscript to Ponder: What sorts of digital tools can best support this type of course?