Friday, September 16, 2011

Travels and Teaching

I'll be at the Beyond Worst Case Analysis workshop next week, and Allerton the week after.  For each, I'll have to miss a class.  I also have some other travels that may involve missing classes this semester as well -- I'll be missing more class than usual this semester, but they're for good reasons.

I'll have Justin and Giorgos cover a lecture for me (thanks, guys!), but next week I'm doing an experiment:  I'm substituting videos for my class.  I've pointed them to 2005 MSRI workshop Models of Real-World Random Networks, and having them watch some talks.  One is my survey talk on power laws, so it's still "me" teaching, but then I have a few impressive "guest lecturers" from the workshop to cover the rest; all the talks focus on power laws in some way.  I've even put together an "in-class" exercise for them to do on the subject -- out of class, of course.     

I wonder if this is a good approach or not.  I'll have to ask the students.  It's not ideal, but either is cancelling class.  Has anyone else started using videos as a solution to the missed lecture problem?  Are there ways to make it a more useful experience?

By the way, looking back, that 2005 MSRI workshop had a bunch of interesting talks.  Worth checking out sometime if you're interested in the area.  I looked younger then. 

Reminder : Giorgos has a poster at the New York Computer Science and Economics Day today.  Go check it out!


Anonymous said...

Some classes in the Extension school have both live and video lectures. Do students seem to learn more or do better when they attend the live lectures?

ACSProfessor said...

Based upon what I can remember of my perspective as a student:

Forcing students to watch a video of you lecturing is pretty lame. If I were a student, I'd be disappointed.

Instead, I think you should consider it your responsibility to find alternative guest lecturers. Maybe one of the other profs can fill in for you while you are travelling (in exchange for you filling in for them when they are travelling). Maybe you can find someone interesting from industry or from outside the university to give a guest lecture.

The fact that you have a good excuse for travelling doesn't change my views on this.

Anyway, that's my two cents.