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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Here’s why I never have to teach anything boring again

Photo: Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott writes, "I wish I could say that’s because of my teaching panache as a visual journalism professor at UMass Amherst. But the reason is more universal. By creating a blended learning classroom—and incorporating external Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)—I can now confidently outsource what’s boring, remedial, monotonous and binary to self-guided online lessons."

Photo: Quartz
This works. After teaching my university’s first MOOC last summer on basic web design and development, I witnessed how the lessons were most useful in a far less massive environment: a modestly cramped classroom of 15 students.

Students in this blended course, called Web Design for Journalists, watched the MOOC videos and completed self-guided exercises on those technical topics as homework. If students had additional questions, we resolved them in class. It was a more successful workflow than listening to me drone on about CSS specificity and jQuery plugins.
“If I had a question, I would pause the video and replay it, and that was really nice,” said Rebecca Humphrey, one of the 15 students and a 2014 UMass Amherst graduate. “I didn’t have to read old messy notes.”
Students produced better websites because they could return to videos about things like customizing web templates and solving CSS layout problems. 

About Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott teaches web design, photojournalism and video journalism at UMass Amherst.
He joined the faculty at UMass full-time in September 2009. He began his career as a photojournalist, working at a newspaper in Pennsylvania. From there, he headed west to Missoula, Montana, where he went to graduate school and took a new media path. He has published photography, multimedia and writing in outlets like the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Associated Press, Quartz, Bon Appétit and many others. 

Source: Quartz