Sunday, October 14, 2007

Busy, yet not stressed

As regular readers can probably guess by my posting frequency, I've been busy lately. As I predicted at the start of the semester, my new online course has been consuming any time it can get its hands on: I'm easily spending at least 15-20 hours each week developing the content for it, and at least as much time in the course interacting with the students and grading their work. Add that to my regular in-person lecture and lab classes, and I'm one busy grasshopper.

I'm enjoying the new course tremendously, and even though I've been extremely busy, I haven't been overly stressed. The course is thankfully small, which means that I have enough time to get to know the students, and I can assign regular written assignments and give the students copious feedback on those. Creating material for the new course is a ton of fun; writing the material is much like blogging (all I'm doing is writing general summaries of basic biological content for a non-scientist audience), and finding artwork has been an enjoyable challenge (I'm attempting to build the course entirely from open-licensed artwork). I'm already looking forward to having time in future semesters to revise what I've created.

The biggest complaint I've gotten from students so far is that the course is too much work and that the exams are too hard. Since this is likely one of the first college-level science courses these students have taken, and these students have surely been exposed to the "online courses are easy" myth, this isn't surprising. It's hard to explain nicely that yes, this course is in fact challenging, and that no, I'm not going to make the tests easier.

Outside of work I'm not doing a whole lot other than taking another guitar class1. This class requires far less time than my summer course (thankfully), but it's been an enjoyable distraction, and has helped motivate me to keep playing. It's hard to believe that six months ago I didn't even have a guitar, but now I can (slowly) play a growing number of tunes (the most complex of which are probably Dust in the Wind and Vals by Calatuyud).

1 And attending a super-cool Genesis concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It was such a good concert that I didn't mind getting rained on for half of the concert, that they ended the concert a few songs early due to the rain (though I sorely missed hearing Carpet Crawlers), or that we got stuck in (non-concert) traffic on the freeway at 1:30am.

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