Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Taught A Class Finally

In fact, I taught three separate classes on Friday. What a good time, and what an eye-opener it was.

First things first, my counterpart had to leave Hohoe and visit his family and asked the Principle to depart on Thursday. He asked me to cover for him on Friday as he had a second-year class that started at 9:30. I figured this was a good first time chance and gladly agreed. It was also going to be on a simple topic: set up an email address.

I have this covered, but I did make sure to do a small amount of preparation work for the job. The day before I wrote out a brief lesson plan with what I wanted to leave the students with - three things that they should know without fail when using email.

Great, everything was set. Nine-thirty came and I saw no students whatsoever. After about ten minutes one student did arrive and asked if I should bring the students to this lab for the lesson, and I said that was correct and off he went. We started about fifteen minutes late, but the lesson was to run an hour and a half so I had some room to spare.

We started by defining what email stood for, and right off the bat I got the impression that I was not using culturally appropriate definitions. My hunch now is that many people here don't receive letters or bills in the mail. Putting the word electronic before mail to create the term email was a bad way to start the lesson. Off we went though to a few sites and I had settled on Yahoo's site to create email accounts for the students. Out of 30 students, maybe three or four had email addresses already.

From that point forward though, the internet and the new computers in the lab would be taxed quite a bit for the considerable future. On a good day at the lab the download rate is about 60 kilobytes per second. That means you can download a file that is a megabyte (1024 kilobytes) 20 seconds. If we have twenty computers all asking for a web page at the same time, that 60 kilobytes per second rate goes down to 3 kilobytes per second. That equals a very slow speed.

As the class moved along the slow speeds started to affect the students' ability to create email accounts. As the time for the end of the class approached, I had the feeling that many students would not be getting their email addresses during the time allotted. No matter, they had a half hour break after the class was over to catch up. By around 11:30 I was ready to close up the lab and send the students on their way when another student walked in.

He was from the next class.

There was a next class? Yes, there was indeed a next class of second-years who would need their email addresses created in the lab. I called the counterpart and confirmed that it would be two sessions to teach, but the same subject. I just re-did my first lesson and started to slim down things as this class said they only had an hour.

A huge pain in this current lab is the physical layout. The computers are set up row after row along a wall so there is only one path to visit the computer on the far said of the row. That means each hand that gets raised means a trip from where I currently am to the row where the student is, and then a walk down the aisle where students are sitting to see what the problem might be.

It is less than efficient to say the least. And if we didn't have all the new computers that can access the internet scattered throughout the rows (of which there are seven in all), I would be scrambling around a lot more than I already am. In the end though, some of those students in the shortened lesson were able to create their emails.

It was now one o'clock and I had yet to have lunch when another group of students came for their internet lesson. I had three classes to teach without even knowing it, and felt by the third lesson I had at least nailed down what I was going to cover. Out went the meaning of email, gone was the discussion of the many sites that we could use to create an email account and in its place was essentially, "Go here, type this in, hit submit."

Streamlining was the name of the game.

By 2PM I had no more classes to teach and could finally get out of the lab. I realized a few things. Students are very eager to learn all they can about the computer and that is a great thing. Any word or phrase that I use that comes directly from knowing a computer has a 90% chance of not translating. "Click on the icon," "refresh the page," "launch the application," these just won't communicate the action that I expect and I must find alternate ways of clearly communicating an action. I need a projector so I can demonstrate to all of the students in a visual manner what needs to be done.

Lastly, I know that I need to explore a bit with the router to disable while class is in session. I had a bit of a problem with that during the first class and by the third class I found my comfort zone. Kick anyone who was using Facebook off of the computer. That worked nicely.

I may have more classes to teach on Monday but we shall see what the day brings. It was fun and I am ready for more whenever I get the chance.

1 comment:

Kris said...

I'm only teaching one class twice a week but boy, do I feel your pain. My version of being strict is threatening to take any cell phones that go off during an exam and giving the student a zero instead. That got everyone honest pretty quickly. :)

Hey, at least now you have a streamlined lecture for email at the ready for the next time you have to cover a class.