The first week of any course/module matters. It’s your first and best chance to make a good impression on your students, to engage them with what is to come.
So you might imagine that I was a bit concerned to find that less than half my students turned up for the lecture last week.
And you’d be right.
Yes, 0900 on a Friday is a shitty timeslot, especially if you’re the kind of student whose weekend starts on Thursday evening (as I seem to recall mine did), but that’s hardly enough to explain it.
Looking at the VLE, a lot of students still haven’t visited the module pages, so it also can’t be that they saw we were flipping and decided lectures were dispensable (see last week’s post on this).
Oddly, my seminar tutor tells me turnout was not bad through the rest of the day for the seminars.
My concern is that having started off on a not-turning-up foot, that will only continue and get worse, even with all the great stuff that’s going on in those sessions.
This isn’t so much narcissism as it is anxiety that if most students miss the sessions where we explain how the online assessment tool works, then we’ll have a bit of a car crash in a month’s time when they have to use, um, the online assessment tool.
Usually, my hope is that this is where one of you comes up with a good idea, but in the meantime, I’ve got a couple of strategies to try out.
Firstly, I’n going to be making more of the lectures to demonstrate to those present their value, in the hope of them spreading the word. Part of that will be thinking about how only those that attend can get easy access to the graphics we’re building together (see last week’s post again).
Secondly, I’ll be upping my work in messaging to everyone on the module why the lecture is useful to them, via emails and the VLE. I’ll also be talking with my seminar tutor about how we can make a stronger link of substantive content between lecture and seminar.
I travel hopefully, but also realistically: to have missed out on being able to hook people in week 1 is a big challenge, but let’s see what we can do with it all.