Sunday, August 29, 2004

A new semester arrives tomorrow

Like many other bloggers in education, I start my fall semester tomorrow. I've got my faculty website updated, my course Moodle page ready to go, my first lecture and lab slides drafted out, and enough handouts copied for a small army, but even so I'm not nearly as prepared as I'd like to be (but then again I never am).

My nerves are starting to kick in, as I'm realizing just how much there's still left to do before my first lecture on Tuesday. One of the things that gets to me at this time of year is the sheer number of unknowns that I'm faced with: how many students I'll have, what they'll be like, how I should pronounce their names, whether the lecture room computer will still work, whether the online portion of my course will work smoothly, if I'll get enough student assistants to help with lab, and so on. It's even worse this semester as my entire teaching load is taken up by the new course I've designed, which includes three hours of lecture and three lab sections that are each six hours a week, and it's all a new prep. This is an incredible opportunity (certainly one that many young faculty members don't get), and it will be nice to do whatever I want whenever I want, but it's also quite intimidating.

I'm not making any major technological changes from last semester, though one difference is that I've dumped WebCT and will be using solely Moodle for the online portion of my course. Moodle seems more intuitive than WebCT, and I love that it's open source (see my comparison of the two here). I'll still be using the in-class response system; it was a resounding success last semester, and I might even start using it in lab if I can get another receiver for that room (see my reviews here, here, and here). Since I'll be working on lab design throughout the semester (translate: I haven't gotten all the labs written yet) I'm going to be posting labs online for student to print themselves, rather than having a printed lab manual.

As a side note, preparing new lectures and labs will take the majority of my free time this semester, so I may not be able to maintain regular posting. I'll try my best, though.

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