Spring 2018 Semester Wrap-Up

The recent semester was a quiet one as I stuck more to my established system. The Interacts continue to be a favorite part of the course, balanced by the more demanding article summaries. The Pre-Lecture slides got better with more content, including more embedded video clips and gifs. The coffee meetings with students were still extremely valuable in letting me see what the lives of my students are like and their comments on the course. One student told me that he does every single Interact activity, though the assignment only requires doing half of them. It would have been harder to learn that kind of detail during the usual schedule of the class.

One event during the semester was my trip to the AAPA meeting in Austin, which was meaningful beyond what I expected. I haven’t been to a professional meeting since I became an instructor (even further than that, my Photos says my last meeting was the SAAs in Honolulu in 2013). Attending as an educator made me interact differently with the presenters. I had numerous conversations about how the latest findings fit in with the material taught to introductory students. Even my off-time was useful. While at Toy Joy in downtown, I saw an inflatable globe that solved my issue of lacking a world map at one of my schools in an unexpected way:

Class Globe

The globe was also useful in the final review Bean Pong game as a new type of question (e.g., “Show the maximum range of Neanderthals on the globe.”). I also learned that I could request a large plastic folding table from Facilities for Bean Pong instead of working with just the furniture in the classroom. It only took me four years of teaching to know that I could order furniture!

My sixteen-week online class saw a big addition with weekly introductory videos. These short videos, all under two minutes long, were added to the weekly announcement and gave a short multimedia summary of the current course topic. Making one video a week, which involved writing a script, filming myself, filming other original footage, recording separate audio on a good mic, finding Creative Commons media, occasional screen-captured video, and fighting iMovie, took a lot of time and sometimes I was working right up to the start of the week when the announcement must be posted. The videos got around four weekly views out of a class of 40, but I was happy with the results. I also enjoyed filming in a variety of places and linking them to biological anthropology. I filmed in a pet store, Target, a supermarket, and the San Diego Zoo. I am now always on the lookout for better footage that I can use to improve the videos. Since the iMovie process is modular, I can swap out footage easily. The videos live in a private playlist, but if you’ve read this post this far, you can watch them here. Make sure to see the Week 6 one.

For the summer session and fall semester, I planned on again sticking with the established structure since I will be working on a big side project as well. Still, I already have some new ideas to try out. What if the summer students had a paper Interacts journal that they worked on over the six-week course and turned it in at the final? We’ll hear how that goes (if it goes) in the next wrap-up!

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