03 April 2011

Best class *ever*

Last week, I went to a giant extravaganza educational student conference dinner at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, and there of all places, I met someone from Southern Utah University.  She described to me basically what sounds like the most awesome class ever.

It's called PAM for "Passion Action Media", it's meant to be the little sister of TED

Lectures involve watching a TED talk, with some additional input added by a visiting speaker in the classroom who can comment on the subject from their own expertise. 

For homework, students choose any topic they want related to the topic and then research it on their own.
They turn in a 2-page paper that is graded pass/fail.

Then everyone discusses what they found in class.  If you did not turn in your paper, you are not allowed to participate in the discussion.

At the end of the semester, everyone presents their own PAM talk.

Another one of my favorite parts is that students are required to make a "concept map" that draws links they've found between all the TED talks, presentations, and discussions.

I would love to see this class model be copied in other places.
  1. TED provides some excellent learning material that is incredibly engaging
  2. The course enables students to pursue what they want to learn.
  3. Furthermore, students have excellent opportunities to learn from each other.  All too often, this aspect is quite limited in classes. 
  4. I think this is the type of course that maximizes the learning, inspiration, and understanding that students can get out of a course while requiring minimal input from the instructors.  (It's been my experience that many times awesome courses require an unsustainable amount of work from instructors.)

Here's a link to the syllabus for PAM.
And PAM's course website.

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