Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The backlogged update

Lesson learned: I can't keep up many separate project logs at once, so I'm merging them all this afternoon into one "notebook" (read: blog) where all my projects will live, so I'll only have one place to type into. That having been said, some exciting things have happened.

  • Alex and I started TAing IES (Intro to Engineering Science) at Wellesley. It was a rocky start, and still is sort of bumping along because it's awkward running tutorials for a class you can't attend with a prof you don't know with students you've never met at a school you don't go to, but the insights I'm gathering from watching the non-engineering students learn this stuff are good; I need to start formalizing those observations soon.
  • I've got a focus for the chapter - Ohm's law. Holy cow do I have a lot of stuff on Ohm's law.
  • My contextual report is so overdue. The reason for this is a combination of perfectionism and "ooh that's shiny"-ism. (And "I'm kinda pwned"-ism, but that's not really a reason; I've got enough space in my life to make time.) My horizons on this project keep expanding, and I can't encompass them perfectly, and I feel compelled not to turn in anything until I do, and that's really stupid. So tomorrow when I spend the afternoon at MIT, I'm just going to sit down and write the darn thing - because I have material to write it with, it doesn't have to be perfect - and I'm not going to get any credit for it because it's so late, but the blinkin' thing will be done. Done, I tell you.
  • The qualitative research methods course at MIT is incredibly helpful. I'm barely keeping my head above water and it seems like all these ideas are swimming around me and going over my head, but I'm learning a ton and it's starting to change the way I look at things, the way I analyze behaviors and reactions to teaching methods in the classroom, the amount of information I'm able to gain from informal feedback interviews. I'm going to start formalizing these feedback methods and using them as actual data for this project (formerly they were just done for fun, for my own edification).
  • I've gotten several requests from underclassmen who'd like to keep updated on the project, possibly get involved, help me test. This is good. Very good.
  • There is freakin' nothing on how to write textbooks. Aaaaaah. I keep reminding myself that's why I'm doing this in the first place. After spending about a month in paralysis (where by "paralysis" I mean "teaching a lot and getting many new ideas and materials and gathering notes but not doing anything with them" I went and talked to Sanjoy, he explained how he was writing his textbook, and I went "Oh. Ohhhhhhh. I can write this now."
  • The history of our current higher-education system (particularly with regards to textbooks) is really, really twisted. I want to try communicating this somehow. Not sure how to find the words yet.

I started out swimming in this weird new field (not really new to me, but new in that I hadn't "formally" swum in it before) and I think I'm at the point where I've soaked up enough of it to start spitting things back. I've been sopping stuff in and not sourcing much myself. Look for a surge in output starting... now.

Oh man - time log? I don' t know about a time log, I'm just breathing this stuff in almost 24/7 but don't put formal limits on stops and ends for it (it'll just bleed in to the rest of my life naturally, show up at dinner conversations, or I'll be working on something for this but then shift to anthro homework, or... they all kind of tie into each other) and I kind of like it that way. I think it's very safe to say I'm spending way more than 12 hours a week on things that are related to my AHS capstone. I don't think I can honestly say I'm spending 12 hours a week formally working on deliverables, because I've been doing this "soaking in" thing, and I need to start setting that time aside so I can let myself soak for the rest of the time, outside those 12 hours.

So let's say... we've got 3 hours in class every week, I'm going to spend at least 6 hours a week formally producing deliverables for the capstone, leaving 3+ (and there will be +++++) hours just to soak and enjoy myself in this new world.