Saturday, April 29, 2006

Curriculum, Pt. 3

I was hoping for revolution, but I got reform.

The PR faculty had our curriculum meeting, and rather than dumping it all and starting from scratch, as I had hoped, the faculty chose to use the current curriculum as our starting point. We decided to take two mid-sized classes, Administration and Research, and make them into large lectures of 150-ish students. This opens up faculty slots to teach a few other classes on special topics--which are fun for us and serve our students by allowing them to learn about areas of specialization--while also allowing us to maintain the small class sizes for PR writing, graphics, and campaigns. We will review the process after a year to make sure it works for the students as well as or better than the current system.

The changes can't be instituted across the board until Fall '07, so we have a year to consider other ways of changing our curriculum. For example, the people who teach the PR writing class are going to meet to try to figure out the most effective way to teach it, maximizing student learning even though we have more and more students and the same number of faculty to teach them.

I was hoping for more flexibility in the curriculum, while most of the others wanted more control over it. The special topics classes will definitely give students more options, so I'm not entirely disappointed. And, my colleagues made a good point that our students and alumni are generally happy with their education (and we're working to address their concerns--the big one being a need for more business education), so why mess up a good thing? I know that updating is better than not, but I was ready for overthrow!

I know the feeling. I teach PR writing and newswriting classes at SJSU in San Jose, and we've been having similar discussions. It looks like curriculum change will be glacial.

Fortunately we have one class that's gone inactive, and we're reconstituting it as as new media technology/multimedia class. Now we get to figure out how to teach it.

I also introduced blogging into my PR and newswriting classes this year, with mixed success. I'll tweak a few things next fall.

Good luck with your classes.
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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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