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JANUARY 14, 2008    

First day of class

It's great to be able to ease into a new semester, which I did today with my first class, Intro to Visual Communication, one of my favorites. I had plans to show images from my iPhoto library of all sorts of visual communication, from graffiti to the ever-popular "sit to pee" sign.

I was going to accompany this with The Seduction of Claude Debussy by Art of Noise (listen to some of it here). Figured this would get the students thinking that maybe this class wouldn't be quite like there other classes.

Well, I got a late start but still got to the classroom ten minutes early. A few students were already sitting there, but I had time to get the show underway before the rest arrived. But I couldn't log on to the damn computer! I tried this semester's password, last semester's password, the previous year's password, and none worked. I went in search of other instructors and/or our lab tech. No one around. So my multi-media introduction to the class went down in flames.

Maybe it wasn't all bad that we spent much of the class talking. I had each student draw a picture/symbol representing something they are interested in, then had them pair up and talk with another student about what he/she got from the picture. After that, each person did another drawing, trying to improve and clarify their first one. We went around the room and each student explained what they'd done. Pretty interesting and relatively painless. It also was an opportunity to ask what they were majoring in at the college. I did a bit of career counselling, something that needs to happen everywhere, not just in the Counselling office.

In the course of this conversation I made an offer that may turn out to be a great idea, or one I may regret. As I was talking I realized that every now & again you see that look in a student's eyes that says "Why should I care about this?" Fair question, actually, so I challenged them to ask the question whenever they felt that way. I promised to try to answer them as best I can. We'll see what happens. It will make me think on my feet, if nothing else.

Notes about Interactive Media on whiteboardTomorrow is the first day for Interactive Media, another class that I like a lot. I'm team-teaching it with Angela Berlingeri, my first mentor at Tri-C. It's fun to teach the class with her because we bring very different views and skills to the class.

Planning is a challenge, since we've discovered that our priorities are quite different. Look at the whiteboard: even our handwriting is very different (I'm in red, Angela in black).

So this semester we're going to try a "tag-team" approach, with us alternating planning projects. This should make it more interesting for the students, too.

I want to focus on creating projects that are really interactive, no matter what technology we use. That's the hardest thing, in my opinion. Any conversation is interactive—we do it all the time—but replicating/simulating a conversation, even in very primitive form, on a computer is a huge challenge. Telling a linear story, on the other hand—beginning-middle-end—is quite easy.

You'll note that on the whiteboard we haven't yet filled in the points under "interactivity." That's because we're still figuring out how to tackle that. I have a couple of ideas that we'll try, starting with using a small group of pictures as "conversation starters." More on this in a few days.

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