Headlines for Wednesday:


Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
AX@1030-1130 Encode DSS questionnaires (teaching)
AX@1200-1300 Attend lab session (teaching)
AX@1300-1400 Read lecture handouts and Excel book (teaching)
BC@1400 Pick up textbooks from MB223 : E-Mail from Joe Baptista
AX@1500-1800 Attend engg psych lab (mie1407f)
AX@1900-1930 E-mail groupings to DSS class (teaching)
AXCheck web accessibility from projector computer (teaching)


1. Teaching assistantship

The teaching assistant for the next class promised to pass by at 1:00 to pick up the projector, but he didn't show up until 2:00. I couldn't leave the projector alone and the office was closed, so I ended up waiting in the lab for an hour. I used the time to read through lecture notes. Interesting handouts! I particularly liked the articles from business magazines on decision support systems and change management.

I also reviewed Excel features in preparation for my labs. It's such a pity that the book I was reading was published in 1994. Yes, it's _that_ old. Egads. I really need to find a newer book on Microsoft Excel. Yes, guys, my job as a teaching assistant involves preaching the goodness of Excel. It's not a bad tool, really. I like Solver and I think <nop>PivotTables are really powerful in the right hands. Microsoft Excel is abused far less often than Microsoft Word. (Hear that, all you people sending DOCs when web pages or text files would do?) It's also less insidious than Microsoft Powerpoint, which stunts most people's presentation skills. Microsoft Excel is not a bad thing.


I need to figure out a good way to do the labs. The room is a classic computer lab with big monitors on rows and rows of desks. At 5'1/4", I can barely be seen from the back row--and that's already with my attention-getting red-and-orange outfit!

Demonstrations would also be hard to follow from the back. There are far too many distractions: the hum of the airconditioner, the clickety-clack of other keyboards, the glow of almost forty other monitors... And it's 12 - 1 PM, too! Heck, _I_ felt kinda sleepy.

On the plus side, one student said she liked me because my voice was loud enough to be heard. Hooray for drama in education, and hooray for Toastmasters!


How can I best help them learn?

What am I there to help them learn?

My job is to help them learn how to apply ideas from their decision support systems lectures by using software such as Microsoft Excel, Jess, and Weka.

I _could_ stand up there and demo everything, but I don't think they'll walk away with important lessons. I want them to try out at least one new feature: to know that it's there, why it's there, and how to learn more about it. I want them to have time to work on their project, too, but that's really something they're going to end up working on outside class. I need to talk to Peter Shepard about how much time they should budget for that project.

Self-paced lab exercises helped my first-year Java students back in Ateneo de Manila University, and something like that just might work here as well. I'll need to prepare interesting, engaging exercises that will expose the students to various features of Excel. I can spend 5 - 7 minutes (hah! A Toastmasters talk!) at the beginning of the class to establish the importance of the topic and perhaps take any questions, let them loose on the topics, and then wrap up at the end. I'll need better feedback than waiting for questions. Maybe comments on a blog or on the (very slow) course website? Little slips of paper? Index cards? I don't know yet. I need to figure that out before next week.

It's fun teaching again...