TITLE: Flush with Expectation for the New Year AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 21, 2006 5:01 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Students are back on campus, and classes are back in session. Though the department office moved into its new building in March, and the rest of the faculty moved in in May, this was our first chance to use our classrooms and meeting spaces "in anger". So, in addition to the usual first-day questions that walk into the department office, we got to track down ethernet ports and cables, transparency pens, and all the details of living in our space. The result was a busy day, and a good one in the end. Some of the usual questions were unusual, too -- for instance, I was asked to find a student a substitution course for Keyboarding 101, which s/he had failed at a previous university. Sadly for the student but good for us, we do not offer courses in keyboarding! The emcee at our university convocation used the title phrase above when speaking with some faculty yesterday. (He is a theater prof, with a flourish for the dramatic.) It captures how most faculty, staff, and students feel this time of year. This is our New Year. It is the time for fresh opportunities, new year's resolutions, and clean desks. Most folks are rested and ready to dig back into the teaching business of the university. Every course is still perfect, the ideal held in our minds all summer. Students are still eager to find their classrooms and figure out what their courses and professors will be like. In a couple of weeks, the ideal will be shattered: homework will hang over our heads to be done and graded... we'll have botched a lecture or three... the desk will be a mess... and some folks will already be looking ahead to our Baby New Year in January. But not today. My class starts tomorrow, and I too am flush with the expectation of a new year. I teach CS I this fall for the first time in a decade, and I'm using a new approach for our department. I'm excited by the prospect of 24 students in class tomorrow. I may adapt some ideas from my talk on steganography last spring as my opening to the course, which could be fun -- but it's also a bit of a risk, the sort of risk that can quickly lead to "wait 'til next year...". I've also followed up on a promise to equip my course web site with a newsfeed, by using the same blog engine I use to publish this blog. One of our new adjuncts is blogging his senior-level Networking web site, too, which gives us an interesting experiment this semester into how many of our students are using newsreaders at this point in time, if any. Now, off to get ready to actually teach the course... -----