Archive for teaching

We Have Too Much Life On Earth Anyhow

I’m a fan of making explanations that help people grasp large numbers, particularly those numbers that intimately affect our lives even though we are unaware. I wrote a while back about the l-curve. Today I happened across an informational video by Ben of Ben & Jerry’s:

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etudiants

On the subject of grad school, I got the reviews from my teaching assistantship. Once a week I would give a recitation on some subject concerning ethics and computer science. All sorts of stuff from net neutrality to the history of hacking to the development of intellectual property law in America. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately I also had to grade an essay per week for each of the 35 students and that was less entertaining.

I felt pretty good about the recitations. I’m about as geeky as anyone I know and this was essentially geek story time for an hour. My audience was 30 Malaysian students which was a bit challenging, but over the course of the semester I saw a real improvement in their critical thinking skills and writing proficiency. In the end that’s what I really enjoy about teaching.

I did wonder though about what they thought. After I’d stepped up the grading criteria on one of their essays, I asked them if they’d rather if I just saved us all some time, skipped reading the papers and just gave them all B+. All but two said “yes.”

I’ve been wanting to play with Google’s Charts API.

How helpful and responsive was the TA?

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How was the TA’s fairness in grading?

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Did the TA communicate effectively?

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What is your overall rating of the TA?

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After bleeding all over their papers and making them work fairly hard, I’m pretty cool with having 80%+ giving me good or excellent. I’d really like to get to teach a class like this at some point in the future. I would really like to see what could be done with it if it were treated as a persuasive writing and critical thinking class as much as a survey of ethics issues. Many of the students weren’t even really in a position to fully appreciate the issues they were introduced to and I think it would have been interesting to try and address that problem.

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