Saturday, November 18, 2006

Teaching Backwards

Due to low enrollment in one of my Winter courses, the focus of the course has changed to something completely different. This happened all of a sudden at the very end of classes this quarter, so it's a bit unsettling.

I'm excited about the content though. This will be a pure design course, with no art or programming to get in the way. It's project-based: students will work (probably in groups) on a set of exercises. I'll cover some physical card and board games, and some paper designs (and project proposals) for digital games. I plan to keep the students on their toes by offering them interesting sets of constraints; I did this before on a semi-regular basis at Hi-Score, so expanding that into a full class shouldn't be too hard.

Here's the strange thing, though. This Fall, I taught a course about rapid prototyping and iterative design, from a technical game design perspective; this was a course where students were expected to actually implement their ideas, sometimes doing some light programming or scripting in the process. It's a pretty advanced course for undergraduates.
Meanwhile, this Winter I'll be teaching a practical game design class. And this Spring I'll teach a game design class that covers the theoretical foundations of the field.

Through a set of circumstances outside of curricular matters, I'll teach these courses in the reverse order that students should be taking them!

Lesson learned: next time I'm introducing a new set of courses to an existing curriculum, offer the lower-level ones with fewer prerequisites first.

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