Monday, January 08, 2007

What I've Learned So Far

Just taking stock of a few things I've noticed now that Fall is over and Winter is starting...

College students are very excited about the concept of taking a course about video games. However, getting the word out to students outside your department is really hard.

If you're introducing new courses to a curriculum, start at the most basic level and build up. If you have the opportunity to teach an upper-level Special Topics class in something that you (as a teacher) are passionate about, but it requires some background material that the students might not have yet... Just Say No. Or rather, Just Say Yes But Next Year! Don't be afraid that this year's graduating students will "miss out" -- if they can only take one course, it's better for most seniors to leave with a 100-level "intro to the industry" course that points them in the right direction, anyway.

For every homework that you assign, ask yourself: how long will it take me to grade this? Is there some way I can have students do the same kind of work, but that's easier to grade? That said, students seem to appreciate if you take the extra time to give them meaningful, personalized feedback on their assignments.

If you make yourself available to chat with students a few minutes before and after each class, don't expect any visits during your office hours.

Keep soft copies of everything you do for a class, and keep it all organized as you go. Keep it in one central location, ideally a thumb drive or laptop -- if some of your notes are at school and others at home (or worse, the same notes are in both places but one is a more up-to-date version) it's a nightmare to sort out.

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