Tag Archives: didactic lecturing

Death by Powerpoint

In my grad algorithms course, I am teaching in an increasingly Socratic way (not all the way there yet) and covering less material as well.  Well, going through fewer examples.  In my freshman “Orientation to Computer Science” course, I am doing this much less so.  I find it challenging because, while the material is quite easy, I have no idea of the background of the students.  How do you teach Socratically to a group of students, a third of whom already know what you are teaching and a third who think you are speaking Greek?  I’ve still managed to keep the classroom somewhat interactive, but it definitely needs work.  Maybe next year.

But it came to a screeching sleep-inducing halt on Wednesday.  I needed/wanted to teach the students basic computer architecture.  Now, this is a topic that I have somehow escaped learning anything but the most basic of knowledge about.  I scrounged up some slides online as a starting point and decided the only way I too could teach this material is with slides.  I never teach with slides.  This really was only the second time.  The first time was for a 15-minute teaching sample I had to give during an interview in which they refused to provide anything other than a projector.  I was glad to have asked.

It’s a bad sign that I was bored by lecture.  The students certainly didn’t look any better. Never again.

Of course, about an hour after the lecture – having learned, digested, taught the material – I realized there definitely is a way to cover basic computer architecture Socratically and, in retrospect – as this was the one topic that was new to everyone in the class – this may have been the one place that I could have really teach in a deep, meaningful way.

Oh well.  Next time.