Monday, January 21, 2008

Course Updates

I now have a week and half of school under my belt. I still mentally prep for my classes and make a rough outline of notes, jot down to phrases I'd like to use, etc. It helps to have a freeze-up back-up. That being said, I find that I probably have about 5-10 minutes worth of content beyond my time limit. One hour and twenty minutes is not a long time for a design studio/lecture course. Especially when you have ~20 students. Did I mention that? I had 18 students on my roster today, 3 didn't show, 2 additional students showed and 1 more asked to join the class just this afternoon. I don't even recall what the cut-off limit if for the class, but it will have to be 20. Any more and we won't be able to cover everyone during our critique classes. We have only 3 boys in the class (reminds me of Carnegie Mellon design- especially communication design. Side story- CMU designers visited Chicago one winter and the offices of SkinnyCorp, the folks behind Threadless. A SkinnyCorp guy saw all these females waltzing in and asked in complete seriousness, 'Is Carnegie Mellon an all-girl school?' Gotta love Midwest ignorance of the school). Thus far the students are willing to speak up and I hope to keep that enthusiasm and participation going throughout the semester. Critiques can quickly become quiet as the semester wears on.

Originally I was signed up to teach 2 courses here at Carnegie Mellon's Qatar Campus- the second one was titled 'Designing Sustainable Systems' (although they goofed up the name in the registrar). Problem is- no one signed up for it and only 2 students approached me about it in the days before class started. It later hit me like a ton of bricks why: they thought it was an Information Systems or Computer Science course. Every other course offered at CM-Q with the word 'systems' in the title is a CS course. CM-Q students certainly don't want to do programming in an elective course. The description was also somewhat vague- partially because I was still figuring out course details when they needed the description. In the context of a design curriculum, the description might have made more sense. However, here- with no other design exposure or smack-dab in the middle of Biz/CS courses, it sounded technical. Chalk that one up as a learning experience.... I also think the topic might have been a little advanced even for the Pittsburgh campus.

The plan now is to rework the class and offer it as mini-course for the second half of the semester, essentially seeking to answer the question, 'What does sustainability mean in the Middle East?' One can't simply plunk down sustainable concepts from the US (ex. increase access to public transit) and expect it to work here (non-laboring natives and expats wouldn't use it). I also made some contacts yesterday and today regarding environmental initiatives and opportunities here. More on those later-

1 comment:

  1. Being able to teach well is truly a gift. It sounds like you have it! I am truly enjoying your blogs. I promise to read them all. Take care Rosemary, remember we're all thinking of you!