[teaching] A student’s perspective on course selection

I stumbled across this article while waiting for a meeting to start. It is a bit “inside baseball”, in this case “inside brandeis” but it was revealing to me at least. Students can “shop” for courses for the first two weeks of the term, attending classes and adding and dropping at will during that time as they settle for their choices. I guess when I went to college they had that too, but I wasn’t aware of how it worked, so I never did it.

It makes for odd dynamics in the class room as for the first two weeks you don’t really know who to expect to see, who will show up next time, and whether they are keeping up or not. This writer does not seem to be enjoying his college experience as much as I did 🙂

The Brandeis Hoot » Course selection shopping period: the honeymoon is over:

Not so this semester. At final tally, I had signed up for five classes and audited seven more only to realize that I did not enjoy the class. So what was the problem? What do I look for in a class? The first consideration I take into account is whether it fulfils course requirements. The truth is that I don’t particularly enjoy 90 percent of the classes I join, and I am frankly confused when I hear of someone taking a class “for fun”.

 

Selling course notes: a market solution

Should it be ok for students to take notes during a class and turn them into a marketable product that they make money on?

If I am teaching the same class again this year, students could buy the course notes and potentially do better, or learn more. That’s a good thing, right?

However is it fair to me? After all these students are becoming multi-millionaires by reselling my work, my intellectual property. Yeah right.

One professor has an amusing solution to this dilemma, but I think it still misses the point;

Precisely. Besides which, I’ve figured out a much more fun solution to the problem: I’m going to buy some of these note sets and outlines being sold for my classes. I’ll go through them and find all the mistakes. And then I’ll write exam questions testing on those very same mistakes. If we all did that, the market would dry up pretty quick. (from Professor Bainbridge.com)

Preparation needed

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what kind of preparation college students need as they graduate to pursue their futures. Thomas Friedman writes an excellent column in the New York Times where he says:

“Look at the news these days from the most dynamic sector of the U.S. economy — Silicon Valley. Facebook is now valued near $100 billion, Twitter at $8 billion, Groupon at $30 billion, Zynga at $20 billion and LinkedIn at $8 billion. These are the fastest-growing Internet/social networking companies in the world, and here’s what’s scary: You could easily fit all their employees together into the 20,000 seats in Madison Square Garden, and still have room for grandma. They just don’t employ a lot of people, relative to their valuations, and while they’re all hiring today, they are largely looking for talented engineers.

Indeed, what is most striking when you talk to employers today is how many of them have used the pressure of the recession to become even more productive by deploying more automation technologies, software, outsourcing, robotics — anything they can use to make better products with reduced head count and health care and pension liabilities. That is not going to change. And while many of them are hiring, they are increasingly picky. They are all looking for the same kind of people — people who not only have the critical thinking skills to do the value-adding jobs that technology can’t, but also people who can invent, adapt and reinvent their jobs every day, in a market that changes faster than ever.” (From The New York Times: The Start-Up of You)

This is really true. If your life’s ambition is to pursue an advanced degree then often a college degree is great preparation. For many though, their life’s passion is to join or create a startup and have a really big impact on the world.