Thinking Technology

Mid-way through Mid-Term Week

Mid-term week, wish I could say that it snuck up on me….. It Didn’t! It landed with roar and has been making all kinds of noise all week.

Teaching is a constant, never-ending process of trying out what you consider the best way of doing something, realizing its not as perfect as you think and changing it. Sometimes it hard to admit when something just isn’t working. Other times….. It’s pretty easy.

My new experimental class (guess that’s why it’s experimental) CIS 187i, isn’t working the way I would have liked it. It’s going to need some major changes. Currently the class requires to much of my personal attention to resolve issues AND that creates a problem with just a handful of students vs. a class full. So before I teach it again….. I’ll have a much better plan.

I’m thinking, Students will perform a drive install of Server 2008. And then I will give them the Virtual Machines (VM) already created. The labs will move away from configuration and more towards looking examples of topics. Also, I’d like to dig deeper into to the subject matter. Better lectures.

But that’ll be for the next time I teach it, which wouldn’t be until at least Fall 2011. I’ve got some time to think about that.

On to the meat of it all, CIS 240M, CIS 288M & CIS 289M. Things can certainly be improved, at least with 240M. The biggest suggestion, from a fellow instructor is the same concept as with CIS 187i. Give the students the first Domain Controller of the domain prebuilt.  That’s very reasonable and makes a lot of sense. The big issue with that is being able to provide that Virtual Machine to Students that are online only. A solution to that is in the works and hopefully will be worked out by Fall 2011.

Until that change is implemented, I’ll have to make some changes to the first lab.

Another change, more pictures, a way to show students where they are in the instructions. Also how they know if they perform the overall exercise correctly.

One thing that won’t change is my approach. The job of network admin is far less about what you know and more about how you resolve problems and learn new tasks. Reading out of the book and taking quizzes will not provide students with the fundamentals necessary to be successful for the job. However, being able to understand problems, research them and ultimately resolve them invaluable skills.

The labs that have been developed for these classes are designed to meet that end. When students encounter a problem, in some cases it is waaay beyond there skill level, I step in and provide assistance. However, a lot of questions come about because students haven’t read all the instructions. They haven’t listened to the lecture which is designed to provide the basics before diving into the lab.

I’ve learned from having students do step by step instructions out of the book that they aren’t challenged. They don’t learn anything.

I want EVERY student that takes my class to be successful. But I know…. It’s not possible to save them all. Some people won’t like me, won’t like approach.  All I can do is provide the best learning experience in my power and go from there.

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