This semester I’m teaching four sections of Introduction to Information Systems: Honors. As is the case with most survey courses, CIS236 covers a great deal of material—and quickly at that. Think breadth, not depth. I joke with some of my friends that it’s easier for me to explain the topics that we don’t discuss over the 13-week semester.
I’m not the only professor teaching CIS236. Through our weekly coordination meetings and via Slack, my two colleagues and I dutifully coordinate with each other. We strive to guarantee a consistent student experience. Put differently, we want to ensure that all students who take the course learn the same things irrespective of who’s running any particular section.
Finding a Way to Personalize a Standard Class
Professors shouldn’t be afraid to bring a bit of themselves into the classroom.
Despite this ostensible limitation, I find that I can still show what I like to think is my unique personality in the classroom—specifically, my fondness
obsession for my favorite TV show.
Cue the following scene—one of my five faves from the series:
As I write this post, I am in the course of teaching the rudiments of Python to 150 freshmen. I’m no expert at it, but I don’t totally suck. Last December, I decided to spend a few weeks noodling with it. I plowed through Head First Python: A Brain-Friendly Guide (affiliate link) and I’m glad that I did.
This week, I wrote the following Breaking Bad-inspired program and committed it on a Github repository. Sure, it’s simple, but it demonstrates a few essential programming concepts: if/then statements and while loops.
Here’s the code:
Here it is in action on IDLE, a popular integrated development environment (IDE) for Python on the Mac:
If you want to run the little program yourself, have at it.
I suppose that, by taking this approach, I run the risk of spoiling the show for the students who haven’t seen this particular scene. Still, I can’t resist. Bringing my personality into the classroom is a big part of my teaching philosophy.
Beyond that, I firmly believe that my subjects (read: technology, coding, data, analytics, and information systems) need not be boring. On the contrary, they are downright fascinating.1
Simon Says: Professors benefit from letting their personalities shine in the classroom.
Brass tacks: There’s always an opportunity to make classes fun and interactive—even with a potentially mundane subject such as data governance. If I’ve learned anything in my teaching career, it’s that a little personality from the professor goes a long way with most students.
What say you?
- For more fun with Python, check out what this coder did to screw with a scammer.