-24 days and counting…until my class begins

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Just 24 days until my fully online Excel class officially starts. I’ve been trying to work hard, but keep letting myself get distracted.

I can say that I’m now 1/4 of the way through my book (I’d be embarrassed to say this if you saw how thin the book really is). Content for Chapter 1 in my Angel class is done and just needs to be double-checked. Chapter 2 is just about done as well. As I’ve said before – thankfully there are only 8 chapters in the book. I’m already worrying about the “extra” material I need to create, in order to fill in a few of the outcomes on the approved course outline which are not covered in my book.

Chapter 1 – or really, I like to think of it as “the beginning of the course” ended up being a LOT more focused on technology than I’d anticipated.  I did write out my objectives for the start of the course and was surprised at how many of my outcomes had to do with Angel, Tegrity and BlackBoard Collaborate.  For the first week-ish of the course I wrote 22 outcomes based on technology and 34 outcomes focused on Excel.  Writing my outcomes got sloppier and sloppier as I went on too. Many of them ended up more as a challenge to my students than phrased in an official outcome format.  I wrote things like “Can you point to a column?” “Can you tell me the difference between comma formatting and account formatting”.  I have admit – I kind of like the wording as a challenge and I’m hoping they work as a checklist for my students.

I’ve been enjoying making Tegrity recordings – but as long as we’re talking about confessions, I think I’m not-so-secretly in love with Tegrity. As a teacher, I can create a video very (did I say “very“?) quickly. Of course – let’s not forget the prep time that begins before I start the recording. I typically spend a lot of my time walking in the mornings, thinking about Excel lectures. How will I explain this. Everyone gets confused here, how can I make that more clear? Is there a way to demonstrate the concept easily? How will I introduce the topic? Should I try to introduce all the topics in the same sequence? Is there something I talked about previously, that will link nicely to this new topic? How can I relate this to something in a day-to-day life?

Once I have my thoughts in order, I usually make a PowerPoint slide show that walks through the steps I’ve outlined. I do not like overly wordy or complicated slides. I try to add the details I need verbally, or in a demonstration later. I also have an unfounded dislike of publisher-provided slide shows. They all seem to regurgitate what’s already in the book – same pictures, same phrases – if someone carefully reads the book, they sure don’t need the publisher’s slides (just my opinion!).

Once the slide show is about done, it’s time to create the demonstration files I need – particularly so since this is an Excel class. I can’t imagine a student reading the book, working through the exercises, and really getting the finer points and the emphasis on the important concepts without a teacher accompanying them.

Lastly, it’s in to Tegrity where hopefully a lot falls into place.  So far, for the first 1/4 of the book, and admittedly quite a few “introductory” recordings, I have: 14 Excel-specific videos and 2 technology videos, for a total of 3.5 hours of recording. Hmmm… somehow it felt like a lot more work than just 3.5 hours of video!

Confession?  I did make one recording, which I thought was going along particularly well… when I minimized PowerPoint to show an Excel spreadsheet.  I quickly explained what I was going to do again, clicked the magic keys, and Excel blew up. Nice to get it all recorded too!  Thankfully I did not swear, and I was frantically trying to figure out what to do as Tegrity kept recording me (smile for the camera!). I figured, what the heck, and just used it as an opportunity to explain the value of saving often! LOL.  It actually came out pretty good and I kept the entire recording as it was , thinking it a great chance for students what happens in the real world and to their teachers.

A quote usually attributed to Mark Twain: “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” This is exactly how I feel about my quick 10-minute lectures that look like I’m winging it. It probably takes me at least 2 hours to prepare one.

Ug. How many more chapters do I have to prepare for this class?

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