Skip to main content

C'est la Z

Feeling like an English teacher

So I'm teaching my Ethics and CS class for the first time. I originally designed the course but didn't teach it the first time around. That honor went to my friend, Master Teacher Topher Mykolyk. He of course did an amazing job - impossible to follow. Fortunately, this is a different cohort so they don't know how great Topher was for the course :-).

Even though I have the syllabus and Topher's notes from last time around, first time through is very week to week but I think I'm starting to get my legs under me.

This course is very different from what I've taught in the past. It's also different from the ethics courses I've seen currently out there. Specifically, I wanted a programming component in the course. Still, there's a lot more open ended discussion and opinion based stuff going on.

I mean, when you do a class on an algorithm like mergesort or a construct like a loop, it is what it is. You can motivate it in different ways and engage the class but there's only one punch line and it's set in advance. Here things are a lot looser. Most issues have two sides and even when most of the class is on one like when we talked about predictive policing, we can still effectively play devil's advocate for the other side.

It can also lead to the class going sideways. Yesterday we were talking about basic web privacy. Tracking, cookies and the like. In my mind I had the lesson mapped out. First, our "weekly ethicacy" student presentation and then a short breakout, discussion on the info we share, and then curated questions and resources that we'd use in a sequence of breakout room and whole class discussions. The trouble is, after the first short breakout, the student conversation went directly to what I had intended for our async work over the course of the week. Oh well, time to call an audible. It wasn't really a big deal, the conversation moved in a different direction but it was still very much in the wheelhouse of the day's topic.

Must be what an English class can be like.

It was fun.

Overall I think the course is doing well but I won't know for sure until afterwards when I can debrief with the students. After all, they're the ones that ultimately determine if the class is successful.

Over the next few weeks I'll share some specifics about the class. The programming stuff in particular. Can't do that now because we're in the middle and I don't want any members of the class who might be reading this to see the reveal before it's time.

comments powered by Disqus