Commentary,  Pedagogy

Teaching Again

Technically, I’m a humble Teaching Fellow (that’s a TA to you) so I don’t have to prepare lectures (though I do have the opportunity to lecture, and I am responsible for grading). I hold office hours, attend lecture, and prod/entice/coerce students into thinking, talking, and writing about the literature they’re reading in a fifty minute once a week discussion section.

I requested this class when I decided to TA. The class is a required class for would-be English majors, and is based on The Norton Anthology Vol. I or English literature from 800 to 1660, Beowulf to Milton.

I’d hoped to use one of the digital technology friendly rooms, but am not, alas in one, so I’m not using digital technology much in the discussion itself. I do give them URLs, or page references via a click path. The division uses WebCT to host undergraduate web sites for classes. I used to support this particular system, so I’m intimately familiar with it. I am less than fond of WebCT, though the programmer and administrator for the system is a miracle worker. I’d love to use some of the tools that he would write, if he had time. The modifications he’s made to improve the suite have been so much better than the off the shelf options. But he’s not yet been able to write quite the kind of system I crave.

Instead, I’ve set up a BloggerPro weblog here. I’m using Apple’s OS X iCal for my student appointments. I’m also posting web resources on the WebCT site, and using the built in Calendar tool for general class Calendar items, like reading assignments and such that aren’t specific to my sections. I’ve integrated the Blogger weblog into the WebCT site.

I’m using QuickTime to annotate a few audio recordings of Middle English and Old English, so students can see and hear what they sound like. You can find the links on the blog. That’s been successful. I’m also using images to show students what manuscripts are like, among other things. But I am even more interested now in creating a decent CMS for instructional use. Blogger is getting awfully close.