Second Meeting with IT Staff

Last month, I blogged about my initial consultation with our IT staff to brainstorm about my upcoming first year seminar. Yesterday I had my second formal meeting, this time with Martha and Jerry.

Earlier in the week I emailed them my latest thinking about the course. This was a tentative course outline and a list of assignments, projects and activities I plan to have the students do. These include:

* An introduction to wikis and the course wiki,
* An introduction to blogs, RSS, and each student’s blog,
* An introduction to tagging, social bookmarking software, etc.
* Discussion of each major text for the course,
* A discussion of evaluating online and other resources,
* A tutorial on Basic Concepts of economics.

The questions I posed to Martha and Jerry were how to sequence the topics listed above, and more generally how to incorporate social software productively into the seminar.

We discussed what I send them–they asked for clarifications, they made suggestions for how to accomplish certain goals, I asked questions, they responded. We spoke for well over an hour.

At one point I interjected, “I’m assuming (hoping!) that you guys aren’t simply going to tell me how to teach this IT stuff, but that you will be visiting my class to do some of the teaching.” The response was immediate: “Absolutely!” I breathed a large sigh of relief. At one point, Martha mentioned that she’d like to take the course. Even if she was only being polite, it felt good to hear that.

I’ve had similar consultations in recent weeks with Charlotte, our reference librarian, on teaching students to evaluate sources, and with Warren Rochelle, our composition guru in the English Department on teaching argument-based writing to first year students. Both individuals gave presentations in an earlier workshop for First Year Faculty instructors.

Over the last few months, I’ve also consulted with faculty in a variety of departments (Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Business Administration, and History) regarding the content of my seminar. I asked them two questions: what issues would you want to teach in a course on globalization? What do you see as must-reads for such a course?

Yesterday I found myself thinking that this is a very collaborative approach to teaching, even to a certain extent a team-teaching approach. In the last decade, teachers of economics have been struggling to move beyond the traditional “chalk and talk”-based teaching paradigm to a more active learning approach. What I’m trying to do seems an order of magnitude beyond that in terms of rethinking the role of the teacher.

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2 Responses to Second Meeting with IT Staff

  1. Gardner says:

    At the first Faculty Academy I led (2004), Phil Hall talked about how he’d like to see some kind of “computer dating service” mechanism for bringing together faculty of similar or overlapping interests. He thought it would revitalize teaching and lead to some important curricular innovations. It strikes me that you’re doing a version of this yourself, by treating your colleagues as if they’re resources in the meta-seminar of your own continuing education.

    That’s what I got in this business to do. It happened all too rarely. I think these teaching/learning technologies play a pivotal role in making them happen more often. It would be interesting to have your seminar students do brief podcast interviews with your colleagues, asking them much the same questions you did, and reflecting on their answers in the context of your course. I’d sure subscribe to that!

  2. Pingback: Pedablogy: Musings on the Art & Craft of Teaching » Blog Archive » First Day of Class

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