By the last class of the semester, everyone involved is usually pretty tired, and it can be a challenge to keep students engaged when you are reviewing material they’ve already seen. Instead of giving a greatest hits of the semester, I like to have students work through problems that combine multiple topics. This time around, I decided to up the ante and make the problems a little provocative.
In this episode we are joined by Professor Drew Margolin from the Cornell Communications Department. Drew is an expert on the role of technology in communication and in particular social media. During our wide-ranging conversation he shares his thoughts on the growing importance of social media in our lives and our students’ lives, as well as how he uses Twitter to engage students in the classroom.
I love music and I’ve always been a little jealous when I hear about other faculty who play songs before class that relate to the topics of the day. George Chauncey famously played gay anthems before his U.S. Lesbian and Gay History lectures at Yale. I’ve heard Anna Haskins sets the tone for Intro Sociology lectures with music here at Cornell. And both Dirk Mateer and Rebecca Stein connect songs to the topic of the day in introductory economics classes.
In Fall of 2016 I played songs before each and every one of my 27 Applied Econometrics lectures. They weren’t exactly inspired by the subject, but each one has some connection to the topic of the day. You can also find a slightly abridged (i.e., no Tool) version of the playlist on Spotify. If you don’t like Spotify, there are Youtube links below.
In this episode we go conceptual and talk about a new way Edward has devised to categorize courses into three distinct types. The first, Interpret-and-Explain is common in the humanities, business schools, and some advanced courses in the social sciences. The second, Explain-and-Predict is the predominant type in the sciences where theories, models, and methods are central. The third type, Plan-and-Create is the primary mode of many arts and engineering courses. We look back at our past episodes for good examples of each, and discuss when and why you might want to teach using a method that’s atypical for your discipline. At the end we go meta and try to fit our podcast into this ontology and ruminate on our goals for the podcast.
Walker White has one of the coolest jobs in higher ed. He directs Cornell’s Game Design Initiative, and teaches beginning and advanced game design classes in the computer science department. In this episode we go deep inside Walker’s introductory games course for programmers, writers, and artists. He tells us how he organizes his students in heterogeneous teams, gives them copious feedback, and helps each team build a brand new playable game by the end of the semester.
Stephanie Bower and John Murray teach writing at the University of Southern California, and have been co-teaching “Writing in the Community” for almost 10 years. Their students are matched with community groups where they write essays and research papers, and create short video documentaries about and with community members. The experience is powerful for all involved, and in our conversation John and Stephanie give us the behind the scenes perspective. This is a great episode for anyone who teaches writing or is interested in giving students extra motivation to work on their assignments.
Peter LePage from the Cornell Physics Department joins us on our extra special 50th episode to talk about active learning pedagogy. He shares his first teaching experiences, his introduction to physics education research, and why he believes students benefit from problem solving and discussion in class. We also talk about the Active Learning Inititive, a program Peter started at Cornell that was inspired by Carl Wieman’s Science Education Initiative. Both programs aim to change the culture of teaching in higher education by giving departments large grants to radically overhaul how they teach their undergraduate courses.
We break new ground in this episode as we talk to Dr. Anael Alston, the superintendent of schools in Hamilton, NY. He has a master’s and doctorate in education from Columbia, and has worked his way up to his current position, starting as a substitute teacher in the New York state system. Anael shares his inspirational journey and the many things he’s learned along the way about teaching at all levels.