The school year is winding down. Yesterday my colleague, teacher and mentor Ed Ackerman said “This semester is SO over” while we stood outside of our classrooms.
It’s true that mainly damage control is all that is left in the school year. Yet I soldier on.
Yesterday I was wanting to teach Adobe Audition, a powerful audio editing tool. I have been using this editing platform since it came out in 1995 as “Cool-Edit”. The other day I did an audio editing job for someone who watched me and remarked “You could probably do that in your sleep.” I probably could. I know I have mixed drunk as a skunk but that is another story for another time.
Before I went to school I was chatting on Facebook IM with my sister. I told her about my lesson plan and she said “Well, that should be easy, since you know it so well.”
Maybe so, maybe not.
In some ways I have found that teaching software is better from a “medium knowledge” perspective.
For example: I know a little about a lot of software. I can usually figure out how to use a new program in a few minutes of tinkering with it. I subscribe to the “Poke and Hope” school of learning how to navigate new stuff.
In the course I have been teaching, “CIS 107” “Computers in Mass Media” I perceived my job was to familiarize my students with as much software that might pertain to work in media as I could. But more importantly I wanted them to see that to know how to run one program, especially in the P.C. world is to know basically how to at least navigate them all.
Clearly, after using Adobe Audition for a decade and a half I know my way around it. Couple that with the fact that I have been around audio editing all my life, own my own studio and taught music recording for ten years I have deep knowledge in audio.
Backing off that depth of knowledge to a level where all my students can get it (I have one guy who in one of my classes who is nursing student. What he will do with all this knowledge? A mystery to me) is a challenge.
A small example.
Part of my teaching technique is to test for knowledge. I ask the class to try and define a term to see if I can get one of them to come up with a way to explain that I haven’t thought of. It amazes me sometimes how smart they can be. It’s always great to learn from students.
In this case I asked for a definition of equalization as it refers to audio.
Most couldn’t come up with any thing that didn’t use the word equalization in the definition, something I frown on.
I said: “The alteration of relative amplitude of certain frequencies so that they are more or less pronounced than others.”
A student came up with “an increase or decrease in bass or treble.” Perfect!
I liked his far better as far as it went. Simple. Put in terms that everyone in the room could understand. And, most importantly, fundamentally correct.
Some days it’s better to teach in your sleep.
Three class sessions, a review and final. Five more trips to the institute of higher learning before summer break.
This summer I will be writing the class that will replace CIS 107. Most of my problems with teaching in a room full of internet enabled computers stem from students constantly being on Facebook. All the instructors share this dilemma, with some choosing to yank the power out of the machines being used by students to update their status during lectures. I have a different tack.
Beginning in the fall I will teach “Social media”. At first the students will be so happy. They will get to play on Facebook to their hearts content. Then when they discover that I will make them work on it, question it and use it in ways they never thought of they will come to hate it.
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