The comment that brought on this post:
I was in a meeting recently and was told that “I don’t think we should spend time having the students do digital presentations in FYC.”
Where did this comment come from?
This was a direct challenge to my previous comment, that my students were doing this as an assignment.
The professor speaking to me is a lit prof, so it could be old media v. new media issues. However, I really think it is that he thinks I am not teaching my FYC course as it should be taught. (Or he’s a curmudgeon!) He said we should focus on grammar. (I do.) He said we need to have the students understand sentence structure. (I work on that.) He said they need to write long essays. (My students do.)
Why did he tell me that an assignment I have given, that I am actually thrilled to have given, is a waste of my classroom time?
I think it is a recognition of the limits of what we can do in 16 weeks and a comment on the tech-focus of many. I think it was out of concern that I, as a professor at a new uni, did not understand the parameters expected in the course (though these were made quite clear by the director of FYC). I also think it was out of a desire to NOT have to add digital presentations to his own FYC course.
When I first taught FYC, I had my students do prewriting for two days, a draft and peer review, and a final paper EVERY SINGLE WEEK. I think that was a great model, but I don’t have enough time or energy to do that for 100 students. (I only had one course as a TA.)
I’ve taught FYC for 20 years now. The 6 papers required by this course at this university are almost all new for me. So I’m already struggling with how to teach the course.
So why did I add the digital presentation?
(He didn’t ask, but I think it is relevant.)
1. My uni is focused on being innovative, particularly with technology.
2. My students are somewhat used to computers in all their classrooms, using internet apps for school, and texting/emailing all day long.
3. My students are required to evaluate/analyze visual rhetoric as one of their six 1200-word essays.
4. My students are required (by the department) to analyze a ten-minute video as a class exercise.
5. My students are required (by a uni-wide core course) to analyze a commercial.
6. My class is supposed to connect to the core course, but to build on it and not simply repeat what it does/has done.
So, looking at all those points, I decided that a group assignment of a digital presentation would be a useful exercise for class.
This is an experiment (like most of what I am doing in FYC this semester), but I am hoping that the students will rise to the challenge and produce work that is totally amazing.
Because they are working in groups, I could have all three of my classes get together for an hour and a half one day and watch all of them. They could see that they are not alone and that other people also worked on these.
I think that might be fun (if they turn out half-way decent).
So how will they turn out?
I have no idea.
I have never done this before.
It may be that, in a month, I too will agree with the lit prof who told me that students should not be doing digital presentations in the FYC classroom.