Chris' public learning: week 0

New group of students into a course I have taught some time back. While I can empathise and try and imagine what it is like, to be a student in this course, I do need to get hold of some simple information first, very roughly, where they are, what they think they are good at/know about and where they think they may have problems.

The basic question most students ask is what is this course really about, i.e. I've read the information in the profile but what do I have to do and what will be expected of me?

That question is one that the materials and their design aim to address. How well they do depends upon what I do but also on what the students do. If they simply read it, get confused, don't ask questions, I have no idea what is going on. The notes won't get better by simply being read. Wikis are designed to support quick and easy edits which will hopefully improve information.

My biggest challenge is that I know a lot about what this course is about. I've been in the game for a very long time. My problem is that I have a very poor recollection of what it was like when I first began to try and make sense of all of this1.

An analogy might help here. A good deal of learning about any field is like climbing a ladder. The problem that people who have climbed a long way up the ladder have is that the bottom rungs2 have fallen away. They were no longer necessary. Many aha and now I get it moments later, there is no need for the bottom rungs so they are no longer available to the person who has climbed some way up.

This is not a trivial problem when it comes to the practice we call teaching!

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