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Getting the hang of lecture

February 10, 2013

I’m starting to get a rhythm down for lecture. Even with a routine I’m still spending about 15 hours a week prepping for class and that’s unlikely to change this semester. Here’s how my prep time seems to be playing out…

Before the start of a new chapter
Go through the online learning modules designed by previous instructors to get a feel for the upcoming chapter. There is a pre-existing learning module (a combination of videos, text, and questions) for every class period. Since this is my first time teaching this class I’m using the existing curriculum and only concerning myself with the day-to-day ordering of topics and small shifts in emphasis. I also work through the homework questions written by my colleagues. This is pretty much an entire Saturday or Sunday.

Two days before class
Go through the upcoming learning module in detail, this takes about 30 minutes to watch the videos and answer the questions myself. I then spend about an hour making adjustments to the learning module. Sometimes I’ll record my own video explaining a topic or working through an example problem. Sometimes I’ll write some new questions or change some notation to make it consistent with the notation I use in class. So far I average about one video recording a week. I record the videos using Screencast-O-Matic or Keynote and then upload them to YouTube.

One day before class
Make a set of Keynote slides for class. I start by writing two-three learning goals for that class and then write about three peer instruction questions. Sometimes these questions come from a colleague who has taught this course and sometimes I write them from scratch. I could do a better job of pulling clicker questions from the internet. The last slide of every learning module asks students to tell me what they’re confused about. I look through student responses and usually write two more questions and one or two five minute lectures based on their responses. Altogether this probably takes me about two hours.

Class seems to be going pretty well and the few students I’ve heard from explicitly are enjoying the class format*. The first exam is this coming Wednesday after which I’ll give an anonymous survey so I’ll have a more accurate picture in a week or two.

*I talked a little bit the first day about why we’re using clicker questions (using some of the SEI materials) and made some comments a week later about why our clicker questions are predominantly conceptual questions. I didn’t say much about the idea behind flipped classes and how I want students to use the learning modules. This is something I’ll touch on after I see the survey responses and it’s something I need to be more upfront about in the future.

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