Here we are in the middle of Week One at Queen Mary, and I’ve taught two of my three classes for the first time. In each, I’ve elected to follow the same broad lesson plan: introductions; a tour through the course (module) outline online; an exercise to introduce us to “what the course will be doing” in a direct but low-stakes way. In each, the middle of these three items – aka the most important, aka the most boring – has dominated. I didn’t mean for it to… it just ended up taking more time than I’d hoped. Of course: such it has been my whole teaching life.
I’m starting to wonder if this – introducing the course in detail on day one – is a Bad Thing. Sure, students need to know what’s coming up, and what we’ll be reading, and what the assignments will be, but everything is online now; surely we can read this information on our own time and come back next class with questions, right? Would it be better if I put stuff up on the screen, or handed things out, said “please read this later and come prepared with three questions for the start of next lesson,” then moved on to something more engaging? There is a school of thought that advocates for this less-is-more-inspiring approach, but does it work on the ground?
I’d love to hear from others on this matter. ESPECIALLY if you’re a student right now, and definitely if you’re in one of my classes this semester, please weigh in with thoughts – pros, cons, alternatives, you name it. Do we need the course ground plan in detail in lesson one, or can we do it better, and more efficiently, on our own – with the caveat, of course, that there’s always room in lesson two for questions? I’ve got one more first class to convene this week, on Friday; I’ll change up the plan if you convince me it’s worth trying something different for real.
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