Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Screencasting in Sound and Music

Next semester I'm teaching PHYS 1140 Physics of Sound and Music which is a course for non-science majors.  I plan to use the same organizational structure that I did in last year's Modern Physics course.  I'm a little nervous about being able to motivate the students to put in the time outside of class but I really think it'll pay off for them (and me) if I can make the class time useful for all of us.  I have two ideas for that.

First I'm going to try to do a demo in every class.  That's going to take some planning but luckily I have all of j-term free (with the exception of chairing the tenure and promotion committee) to do that so I think there's a chance I can pull it off.  Since the screencasts and the book will be taking care of the material I think it'll be fun to start each class (after the quiz, of course) with a demo and then have the students talk about the physics it represents.  I'm sure there will be some days when I'll be lazy and use a computer simulation instead but even those can be pedagogically useful (in fact I've recently read an article that makes the case that the cleaner simulations do a better job of teaching but that's another blog post).

Second I'm going to try to emulate Google's Moderator software with the questions students post.  That way the class can "crowdsource" the questions and rank the best ones.  That way it'll be ok if I don't get to every question from every student.  I've got some work ahead of me to pull that off but I've done something similar in the past so hopefully I can get it done in time.

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