Advanced Tech Comm - The Client Interview

Whew! That went extremely well. Without getting into specifics, when I taught ATC in 2004, the client interview was the Pearl Harbor of my teaching career. My students left having been stripped of motivation and more confused about their project than ever.

THIS time, the energy in the room crackled and anyone could see that Dr. Stiller (her department is our "client" this year) and the class had an immediate rapport. My students asked insightful questions and followed up very well. Not only were they able to glean a lot of important information from Dr. Stiller's answers, I think they did an admirable job of communicating their own professionalism.

As always, I don't want to slide into the driver's seat (though I have to restrain myself from doing so), but here are some of the important take-aways I think we have to consider:

  • Our users are expressing themselves creatively. Supporting those creative expressions will be our job and we should adjust our tone appropriately.
  • Tutorials, and to a lesser degree Procedural help, are probably going to be the main emphasis for this document. We should certainly focus those tutorials around acclimating students to suites of tools and we should not be afraid to have the same tools appear in multiple tutorials (eg. layers & selection tools).
  • While Dr. Stiller's assignments are excellent sources for us to consider as we look at tutorials, we should use those assignments to build a list of important skills, THEN design the tutorials to teach those skills. This allows us to account for individual instructors who may design very different assignments to assess those same skills.

On a different note, I met with my reflective practice teaching group last Friday. Our discussion centered on ways to get at what our students know, as opposed to what they can parrot back from the readings/lectures/etc. Then, today, I was talking to my Dep't Chair about my excitement/anxiety over this class. I was telling her that--as much as I want to shove the class aside some times and start doling out tasks and organizing the project--it's critical to the success of the class for those decisions to be deliberated and arrived at by the class itself--the ultimate means of determining what your student's know. Discovering the best approach, through trial and error, is a much more valuable experience than having it prescribed in a text...or even by a well-meaning professor. She asked me to consider writing about this course and my approach for WAC next year. We'll see what happens.