kitchen table math, the sequel: "Brief History of Mankind" starts tomorrow (& a MOOC thought)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Brief History of Mankind" starts tomorrow (& a MOOC thought)

At Coursera.

I'm loving Joanne Freeman's American Revolution course, though I'm making my way through it only slowly (& doing none of the reading, sad to say).

I had a revelation the other day that watching a videotape of a lecture delivered in a lecture course may actually work for the same reason watching a videotape of a stand-up comedy routine works. The lecture course and the comedy routine are the same form: one person, on stage, talking to a very large group of people who don't know each other.

Freeman's "American Revolution" is a classic lecture-hall survey; she doesn't even use Powerpoints! At one point, early on, she says "So that's what I mainly address for the rest of the lecture, and I'm going to talk about it by focusing on three different points" -- and she holds up three fingers.

The three-finger moment was interesting to me because, at Yale, when a professor says she is going to be focusing on three points, attention is paid. 

From the transcript:
So that's what I mainly address for the rest of the lecture, and I'm going to talk about it by focusing on three different points. Point number one: I'm going to talk a little bit about the distinctive character of the people who migrated to the colonies. [here she reacts to her student audience & starts laughing] It gives you such a sense of power when you're lecturing and you say, "There are three reasons" and the entire rooms goes: "Oh." [laughter] "Three. There are three." So there are three. So number one is the distinctive character of the people who migrated to the colonies. Number two is the distinctive conditions of life in British America, -- and that point I'll talk about for the longest. And then number three is the nature of British colonial administration. And I'll repeat that: the distinctive character of the people who migrated to the colonies, the distinctive conditions of life in British North America, and the nature of British colonial administration."
Lecture 3 The American Revolution: Being a British American | January 19, 2010
Freeman makes a number of references to eager-beaver student behavior throughout her lectures.

4 comments:

Jean said...

I am also loving the Freeman course. I have several friends and we have a Thursday night date to watch it simultaneously from our various locations across the US and comment. It is SUPERFUN.

Anonymous said...

Another TAY (Thursdays At Yale) girl here. Finding like minds to travel through a MOOC is an absolute blast! Best part of my week!

Try making up a group, it keeps you motivated and learning.

Jean said...

You could join us too! :)

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