Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let me begin...

Today I gave my first undergraduate astronomy lecture on Observational Methods - or telescopes and detectors as the majority of the course will be. The lecture style I have decided upon isn't quite the fully old school chalk and talk method (my writing-on-the-blackboard skills aren't well developed enough for that), but is fairly routed in non-digital technology by using overhead projector slides. These are supplemented with the standard array of handouts and a few nice pictures displayed, in a nod towards digital technology, via the medium of my laptop and a digital projector. The first lecture seemed to go fairly smoothly with no full on technological breakdowns, or student riots or walkouts. I was also there on time and didn't overrun - what more could you ask for? I'm not sure, however, if the students are too enamoured with the amount of writing they were expected to do. In the classic tone of "You don't know how lucky you are! In my day..." I should tell them that my, in my opinion, fairly sparse slides are nothing compared to the amount writing I did in some of my undergraduate courses - and I was bloody well grateful for it to! To be fair to the students I've not actually received this complaint, but it was more of a feeling I got. Given time their hands will get used to writing notes and they'll appreciate what good training I'm giving them when it comes to having to write lots in their exams ;) Also, as I'm kind at heart, I've posted the lectures on the web for the students to download, despite rather sternly telling them that I wouldn't do it until the course was finished as I didn't trust them to not just stop turning up at the lectures. Anyway giving the lecture was actually quite fun and hopefully the students might actually enjoy them! I'll have to think of some good off-topic anecdotes to tell them - "... and I saw this telescope and it was THIS big!"