Category: Education

  • Welcome to DCI 110

    Here’s a bit of the opening that I’m telling to this year’s DCI 110 class. Obviously, this course is going to be very different from how I would teach an in-person course. But I’ve been working all summer on preparing this virtual experience for you. I’m very excited about teaching this way, and I hope […]

  • Start-of-course knowledge survey

    Inspired by Linda Nilson’s excellent book Specifications Grading, I’m implementing several new ideas in my Fall term course. One of those is an ungraded start-of-course knowledge survey. In many ways, this assignment is a metacognitive task that helps instills thinking about the course in the students’ minds at the beginning of the course. I’m cautioning […]

  • Learn JavaScript by Backwards Design

    The focus on learning syntax of a programming language is one of my fundamental problems with the method that programming is often taught. I’m going to talk about an approach that works backwards from the desired result. This approach describes how to structure a course based not on the content you want to cover but […]

  • Actionable Steps from Small Teaching Online

    Small Teaching Online by Flower Darby and James Lang provides very specific suggestions for improving your online course. As an aid in revising my own course, I’m outlining the points that really hit a note with me. But I highly recommend the book to anyone teaching an online course. “Every student arrives at a different […]

  • The Collapse of Higher Education

    Changes have been coming for higher education for some decades. It’s naive to think that higher ed in the mid-21st century will be the same as the late 20th century. The coronavirus pandemic marks the end of the 20th century and that way of thinking about the world. We now have students entering college who […]

  • Writing about one’s own thinking

    I tend to feel an allergic reaction coming on whenever I hear the terms metacognition or metacognitive. Somewhere there’s a drinking game where one takes a chug of brew whenever a grad student says metacognitive. Take two drinks when a grad student uses foreground as a verb. Drunkenness ensues quickly. The words are jargon. But […]

  • DCI and the search for a new library director

    As Washington and Lee begins the search for a new library director, the provost asked each of the librarians if they wanted to present a short talk to the search committee as part of an information session on The 21st Century Library. Each of us had the opportunity to give a short presentation about “your […]

  • Reconciling doubt

    Despite the bravado displayed by many high-achieving undergraduates, educators recognize the uncertainty that exists in those young minds when faced with subjects outside the students’ realm of comfort. Students unintentionally project a frightful degree of complexity onto any topic. Most people, not just students, throw up these mental roadblocks throughout their lives. We preach the […]

  • Teaching with GitHub

    Several of my courses could benefit from a unit on GitHub. I want to devise a series of lessons that could be plugged into any of these courses with only a slight amount of modification specific to the actual course. It’s easy to identify the aspects of GitHub that I want to cover: version control […]

  • Drafting a course description

    I’m working on a syllabus for a course for next spring’s 4-week short term….not sure of the title yet…I’m toying with the words digital publishing startup. Here’s the first draft of a course description: Through focusing on a specific type of publishing endeavor, literary outlets, we will investigate the mechanisms that power the web and […]