Class 1 – Tuesday January 24, 2012

Noon. Class starts in two hours. I’ve several possible scenarios in mind, but won’t really decide until the actual start – rather like improv theater. Here are the important issues I’ll have to weigh, on the spot.


Back at 12:30 . Eric suggests that the recent Italian cruise ship disaster prompted Public Safety here on campus to get the drill in early. It was a useful half hour – I found out about possible access to a good computer lab, with a table in the middle of the room and machines around the outside.

Here are several substantive topics we might do today. First two from the Globe.

I’ll report back here about what actually happened in class. I’d like to do it right after, but there’s only three quarters of an hour before my next class at four. I’ll fit the blog in if I can, since it’s really much better when it’s fresh.

OK what happened? I was really pleased. Eight excited students. After some general remarks I put the three topics on the board (tax, T safety, bottle collection) and asked who wanted to do which. We ended with two groups doing the last two. I promised the one student who wanted to think about taxes that we’d get there in about a month and a half.

The bottle deposit group did a first rate job entirely on their own. They very naturally came to estimates and approximations for the necessary rates: cans per dollar, cans per year, cans per day and per hour.

I worked with the T safety group, whose task was harder. There were lots of numbers on the Globe graphic, but I directed the discussion to just this question: does 7,000 crimes on the T in 2011 say that the T is unsafe? That led to the need to know the ridership figures, which we first estimated (starting from a population estimate) and then googled.

Each group then reported back to the class.

We’ll do fine with minimal computer access. Here’s what I’ve just written to the lab manager:

Yes please just cancel my TTh Lab C reservation and sign me up for Th
Lab A. In fact given how well my class went today in the Wheatley room
with no computers (not even my own laptop connected), and that more
than half the class can come with their own laptops when necessary, I
will probably not even need lab A often. I know I won’t need it at all
until March 1 at the earliest.

Lab A is a room with a central table that will seat the whole class, macs arranged around the periphery. I’ll probably try it out when we get to Excel.

I had fun. I think the students did too.

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