April Fools

April 1st, 2013, 12:18 am PST by Greg

Having too much time on my hands here, and realizing that I teach both courses on April 1 this year, I decided I needed to do something about that.

I’m giving my lectures here differently than I always have at home. Here, I’m doing my notes as HTML, in decent point form, as I always have given lectures. I’m posting the notes for the class and basically using them as lecture slides. I just bump the font size up three or four notches, and scroll through them as I talk.

It’s working pretty well: they have something they can review later if they don’t catch the English of it all. It’s causing exactly the problem that kept me from this experiment at home: without having to write, I can say too much in one lecture. It’s very easy to cover material at an unreasonable pace.

I decided that for April Fools, I wanted to have the characters on screen move around, just subtly enough that they initially wouldn’t be sure if they really saw anything or not. After a little Javascripting, I had something I’m pretty happy with. You can see what I ended up with on a demo page. If you’re into Javascript code, I have posted that as well.

What you see in the demo is a character being animated every two seconds. I left it at every five seconds during lecture, so it was more subtle. They had plenty of time to look at it, after all.

I think it worked out pretty well in the discrete math course. I could see the occasional student do a double take. A couple of times, one fired near a part of the screen I was pointing at, and I had to ignore it. I let it run for the first half of the lecture and them told them what was going on: it seemed to be appreciated. There seemed to be a mix of “yeah I saw it” and “I thought I was going crazy at first”, which is about what I wanted.

Now to see how the web development course takes it…

Edit: The web course was probably more split. I think some of them noticed right away, but some never did. It’s also possible they’re just more expressive than the 8am group.

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