Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Class - the Halfway Mark 

As stated in earlier posts, I am a rather demanding college instructor. I spend the first 90 minutes of each semester reviewing the syllabus, my expectations, and set the tone for the class. It's an expectation thing - if you set standards and demand performance, in the vast majority of cases, you will get it.

Major complaints voiced by employers about workers today include: new people do not know how to work; they expect much for doing little; they show up late and see nothing wrong with this behavior; often, they are inconsiderate. A reason for my approach to teaching is to address these issues. I track attendance diligently - this is not a class to cut. Exams are time consuming but are comprised of case studies based on real life situations. Students are expected to inform me of misses (rare) before class, not after.

I am also very concerned about content. It is reported that up to 50% of an organization's resources are spent on information technology (IT). This does not mean the IT department consumes 50% of an organization's budget but rather with the equipment, support, maintenance, new development and outside resources, a significant portion of expenses are used in data usages. Hence, employees need to know basic computer jargon and understand the issues the IT department faces as well as their non-IT role in projects.

We are half way through the course. The usual 15% dropped the first week. Students remaining arrive on time or let me know if something has arisen. They meet deadlines. They ask relevant questions. Every semester I wonder if I'm getting through. It helps when feedback comes before the final evaluation. Recently a number of students commented that though the workload is heavy, they appreciate: the effort I put into the class and the respect for importance of their time; the real world knowledge they are getting; the upfront openness in regard to planning their schedule (the just distributed midterm exam will require 10-12 hours; they are cautioned early to budget their week); the ability to reach me.

Now, I took these instructor responsibilities for granted - assumed they were part of my job. Apparently, this is not the case in many circumstances - enough so that students recognize when an instructor takes THEIR learning seriously.

I figure it's my job to know content and teach it; their side of the equation is to show up, study, and learn the content. Simple - a 2-way street, we all win.