As I’ve been preparing quite a lot of new class material recently, I have been reflecting on how I used to prepare my class material and how I’m preparing my material now.
I’ve been preparing new material as there have been changes in the distribution of courses at my university in Ecuador, I have been teaching new graduate-level courses for the MEng program in Ecuador, and I am preparing material for new courses in the new graduate program in the Netherlands. All in all, sufficient new class material to think about how things have changed over the past ten years.
When I started teaching, my preparation was characterized by the following:
- I was preparing for a course that would be fully taught by writing on the whiteboard.
- Only after some iterations of teaching a course would I consider putting bullet points on a presentation. I did keep important sketches and photographs in presentations to show in class as extra material.
- I would prepare by working through a popular textbook and derive my notes from there.
- I would lean on material I had from when I was a student.
- Virtually all my class preparation was based on a book, paper in a notebook, and pencil and pen.
- As I would be new to teaching, I was preparing shortly before my lectures.
The pandemic changed how we teach. I’ve gone from relying by and large on writing on the whiteboard to having almost all my material in slides. I’ve gone from thinking that the classroom is where all the action happens, to making sure students in different conditions can catch up if they cannot make it to class (by providing recordings of the lectures, as well as additional materials).
As a result, the way in which I prepare my class materials is different:
- I now usually start from an overall instructional design matrix based on constructive alignment.
- My material is by and large digital. I still use a notebook per course, but in there I typically only have the solution to the examples we make in class, and the solution to the exams.
- In many cases, I lean more on journal articles, my experience and my research than on a popular textbook. When I prepare a course on a new topic (that is in my realm of work and research), I am reminded of the fact that I now know so much about it that I could write a better and more up-to-date textbook. (Sorry for bragging – and no offense to the textbooks out there; I know how much time and effort it takes to write a book, and how quickly research moves so that material becomes outdated).
- I already think ahead of how I will upload my material to the online learning platform.
- I try to get everything ready before the start of the semester, so that I have a complete overview of the course material: the lectures, assignments, and exams.
If you have been teaching for a while, which changes in how you prepare your teaching materials have you noticed?