This is a followup from yesterdays post.
Thinking about how to make the curriculum more exciting.
It occurred to me that one way to make things better was to have more innovative courses, but innovation is often the kiss-of-death in university education. To wit, if I went to my chair and proposed a course, then I’d have to teach it, which doesn’t sound bad until you realize that I carry a full load and publish and perform independently funded research.
However, there is a way to do it that will work.
- Teach a topics course. It can be on anything relevant and should be on something that you find fun.
- Teach it once (or once every few years). If the students cant take it when you can offer it, that’s their problem. There will be another later.
- Rotate it among the faculty. This might be the hardest to pull off, but if everyone taught then there would be a huge range of courses and there could even be several at once.
- Tie it to research. Stuff at the edge of science is always the most fun.
- Give it credit. Have it replace a course normally taught for one term. No one, in their right mind, will volunteer to work harder for the same reward. By being one term only, the regular curriculum is minimally disrupted.
For example, I could replace my “data security” class one term with an advanced undergraduate course that might be “topics in cryptography” or “hacking for fun and profit” (well maybe not that), or something from the bioinformatics side of my work or something like computer-based music that builds on a strong avocational interest (and is computer science). It would be fun, once, and then maybe again in a few years. There are many topics that our faculty could put together on this model – much more than we could regularly teach.