This is the fifth in a fifteen part, weekly journal on my experience teaching a web class. Each post explores how things are going in the current week and ideas for future revisions of the course. For my first post, see Week 1 (Why do it, My class, Moodle, Message Board Worries and Drops). For my second post, see Week 2: Failures in Communication. For my third post, see Week 3: A comedy of Errors and a Silver Lining? My fourth post is titled Week 4: Cut and Paste. To see entries posted after this one you’re reading now, you can also just pull down the categories menu on the right and select the Web Teaching Journals category.
I’m in week 6, but this is my week 5 post. Class has quieted down considerably and is running by itself. Students talk to each other. They know where to find me for help. Everyone seems calm. One of the most rewarding things that I am discovering is that a lot of my decisions about what to put into the class, content-wise, are paying off. Good content matters, after all. If you have the flexibility to make choices about what to present as content in a given course, I would say really exercise that discretion to maximize student interest. My students keep on telling each other in the message boards that they are excited to be learning new things. They get riled up, surprised and inspired by the material. I don’t agree with a lot of how they process some of the material, how they interpet it, but seeing their interest makes me proud. Getting interested and coming to attention when you discover something new, regardless of how you frame it, is an important first step in learning. My class is introductory, and I don’t feel that obligated to correct every misconception that arises in web board discussion, so I’m letting some things slide. And there’s something valuable in listening to, I mean “watching”, what students are interested in, because it teaches me how to teach them better next time. It teaches me what kinds of things hold their interest and what misconceptions need to be addressed in future incarnations of the course.