Back To It
January 9th, 2010
This last year has been busy—recently I was told I was the queen of understatement.
Let me try this again—this last year has been beyond crazy, insanely, overwhelming, and wonderfully busy.
Well, that doesn’t totally capture it but it’s a little more accurate. My schedule has been so full that I’ve completely neglected posting here. I became one of the many who found it much easier to tweet than to blog; one hundred and forty characters were uncomplicated. Even though Twitter made more sense to my lifestyle, I found myself feeling guilty that I wasn’t blogging. I would start writing posts then something would come up and I wouldn’t have a chance to polish them and if the words weren’t perfect and the sentences weren’t spun just right, I didn’t post them. So I have an entire folder of potential posts that sit there taunting me and making me feel worse. I’ve decided life is way too short to feel this way. So I’m making a commitment to myself to stop this cycle. Expect regular posts that will hopefully be well written but might not be 100% perfect. Here we go…
This week marks the beginning of the Spring semester. On my first day of classes, it snowed and school was dismissed early, which made me question the logic of calling this term “Spring” semester. Because of the early dismissal I was only able to teach 1 ½ courses. This term I teach three, double-contact hour, studio courses:
- Web Media 2 (3rd year students),
- Typography 1 (2nd year students), and
- Professional Practices of Graphic Design (3rd year students).
My 3rd year students are like a family. They move through most design courses as a cohort and end up spending a lot of time with each other. During their 3rd year, they spend a lot of time with me. Last semester they called their Tuesdays and Thursdays the “Day of Leslie”. Their personalities vary widely, from completely shy and quiet to very loud and not shy at all. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we spend almost 5 ½ hours together. I’m not perfect and neither are my students but most of us are in the classroom for positive reasons and really put effort into the courses.
I do my best to balance the “Day of Leslie” with quiet time for people who need the silence and time for others to be a little more boisterous. I’m sure both groups wish we spent more time in the environment they are more comfortable being in but each group respects the balance and rarely complains. We take mini-breaks throughout the day and many of the students often break out in some sort of dance. I’ve told this to my senior faculty and I’m pretty sure they think it’s a little crazy and maybe it is. But as long as the little crazy is helping my students morale and keeping them focused and creative I embrace it. With such a long day together we need to take breaks and have a little fun. It seems to keep all of our energy levels up and the mood in the classroom seems happier after a little fun and physical movement. Extra bonus, last semester, I learned two new “dance” moves: Karate Chopping Bats and the Garbage Disposal, oh yes, I dance, too. After our mini-breaks, we all get back to work.
Our first class of Web Media 2 was a lot of fun. We had a special guest from the UTC Lupton Library who demonstrated the Safari Tech Books Online subscription. This semester students will be reading from a number of different books so we’re going to test drive the e-books and see how it goes. These are some of the books we will be using:
- Developing with Web Standards By: John Allsopp
- Bulletproof Web Design: Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS, Second Edition By: Dan Cederholm
- Don’t Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Second Edition By: Steve Krug
- Content Strategy for the Web By: Kristina Halvorson
The UTC Lupton Library team has been really supportive of incorporating technology into the classroom, coursework, and the library. Our guest asked the students to help test out a couple of new ways the students can contact librarians for assistance. One of these ways is the library’s new mobile site. If my Web Media 2 students provide helpful feedback to the library staff in written form and show me that they have done so, they earn extra credit.
The highlight of the first Web Media 2 class was having the opportunity to announce that EngineHosting is supporting our class by providing free hosting to my students for the remainder of their time in the program and for one year after they’ve graduated. This was an awesome announcement to make and I wanted to deliver it in such a way that my students really understood EngineHosting’s generosity, the monetary equivalent, and the fact that each student needed to really respect the relationship with EngineHosting. I photo copied hundred and twenty dollar bills (not to size of course and only one sided, don’t want to get sent to jail). I gave students an envelope and wouldn’t let them open it until they all had received one. Then they all opened their envelopes and I explained about the hosting and this opportunity. The students were completely shocked. They sort of didn’t know what to do or say (which is rare). They were totally surprised and it was really fun to see the different emotions on their faces. They were so elated and just so grateful and even asked if they could bake the good folks at EngineHosting cookies.
Thank you Nevin, Laurie, and all the wonderful, supportive people at EngineHosting that will be working with my students! And thanks again for letting me have an Oprah moment… and you get hosting, and you, and you… It’s the kind of moment an educator doesn’t often (or ever) get to experience, thank you.