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  • Writer's pictureCarter Darper

2014 Summer Teaching Blog #1 - Michael Madaio

Hi everyone, I'm Michael Madaio, a graduate student in the Digital Media program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and I will be spending the next two months teaching several courses at the iLab.

I've been here a little over a week, and I'm loving my experience so far. Everyone at the iLab has been very welcoming, and very supportive in helping the trainings get up and running. I'm starting to try some traditional Liberian food, and I can't wait to explore more of the area.

The courses I'm instructing right now are:

•Introduction to Python Programming

•Digital Video Productions class, and

•Open Source Learning.

The course pages for all of these are listed under the Resource tab on this site if you'd like to take a more in-depth look.

The Python Programming course is using a software called EarSketch, which was developed by a research group at Georgia Tech, and uses music composition and remixing to teach programming fundamentals. After 2 days of classes, the students have already written their first functioning program, and have seen how to create music using a few short lines of code.

Next, the Video Production class has been very interesting, and is a nice mixture of analyzing videos and "reading" them to understand the kinds of shots used and how the filmmakers created the effects that they did, and then the actual practice of recording and filming videos that they will create and edit themselves. In the first week, we have watched and analyzed some commercials, some Public Service Announcements, some news broadcasts, and even a clip from a James Bond movie, and the students are already becoming very astute observers of filmmaking techniques. Our first short exercise was something called the Door Project, where the students have to shoot 30 seconds worth of footage to create a short, suspenseful scene involving a door. The trick is that they can't add music or dialogue, and they aren't able to edit the clips, so they have to create suspense through what they choose to show, and how they choose to show it.

Finally, the third course, Open Source Learning, is an interesting experiment, and a class I've been looking forward to teaching for a while. The students will be working in small study groups with other students, grouped by related interests, and they will be taking a course of study from a free online course provider. We began by talking about the history of education, and how it has gradually become more and more democratized, starting with private tutors, secluded monasteries, elite universities, and gradually moving towards institutionalized public schooling in the 19th and 20th centuries. We then traced the movement towards the personalization of learning and how the Open Source community in software development has been mirrored in the education sector in the last few years with the rise of free, open, online courses such as MOOC's (Massive, Open, Online Courses). I created a shared resource document for the class with a list of several major online course providers (like Coursera, EdX, Udacity) and many more links to free educational resources that students could use to help them with their courses, but, true to the Open Source spirit, I made this a publicly editable document so that the students themselves could become accountable for helping share resources with each other. The students then chose a course of study they were interested in from the vast array of online courses, gradually refining and narrowing their options, and joining a study group of 2 or 3 others from the class who were interested in a similar topic. We will now, over the next 7 weeks, pursue these courses of study both individually and with our study groups, helping each other stay motivated and sharing helpful resources when we get stuck. We will meet again as a whole class for the last 2 weeks of July, when we will share out what we've learned in our own courses, and discuss how we worked through the obstacles to the online learning process.

A busy week so far, but I'm very excited for what the next 3 weeks hold, and for the 3 other courses I'll be teaching in July: Advanced Video Production, Physical Computing (with Arduino), and Intermediate Java Programming, using Processing. Stay tuned, and check out the course pages posted under the Resource tab if you'd like to follow along at home!

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