One of my major activities for the week was nailing down the details for my big lecture undergrad course in the winter. It’s a complete reworking of the department’s largest course (200 students), which has moved from a “telegraph to the internet” sort of history of communication course to “introduction to communication studies.” I always struggle with how to balance introducing students to some canonic names and approaches vs. contemporary material, as well as what the minors might need to know (we only have a minor, no major) vs. the people for whom this will be their only course in the field, ever. I’ve made my peace with that, so it’s on to how to actually set up the class.
Every time I set up a class, I find it to be a huge hassle to move around assignments and dates on my word processor as I experiment with different sequences and so on. So this time, I did something different. I laid out post-its on the table with dates for each class meeting. I then wrote in the permanent stuff like “midterm” and “no class, professor out of town.” I then made post-its for all my topics/reading sets. I was able to move stuff about at will and play with different arrangements of assignments. It was all immediately clear to me how things fit together. And then I brought Carrie over, and talked with her about the course. When she suggested a major reorientation of the material, it took just a few seconds to move the unit at the end up to the beginning and vice-versa.
I’m going to plan all my courses that way in the future.
Now if I can just settle on an assignment structure, I’ll be golden.