Getting back to teaching

Editor’s note: This is a series of columns by John Malcolm on his “50 years at Fredonia.” Retired, he is a professor emeritus at Fredonia State.

My last 10 years as a faculty member were interesting ones. I had a full load of teaching and advising and it was a relief not to worry about other faculty/administration problems. I left that in the competent hands of Ted Schwalbe and Colin Plaister.

My primary load was teaching the introductory 100 level media class. I taught it as a single large lecture class and tried a number of experiments. For example I had a telephone in the lecture hall and a pile of index cards with students names and phone numbers. In such a large class with no graduate assistants it would be impossible to take attendance so I would select a card at random and ask the student to ask ME a question. If the student wasn’t there I would dial their home phone number and put the call up on the speaker system. There were some interesting results.

All tests and outlines were sent by e-mail and all exams were thus open book. Now some would say hey-all they have to do is get together and pool their answers. To this I say good – it is a form of study. The day of reckoning came during the final exam. It was, like the other tests, open book but this time it was done in class. Again, the results were interesting.

The class was a wonderful opportunity to try different presentation styles and incorporate new and old media devices. Thompson Hall’s “1017” had rear projection for slides and film.

There were six video monitors and also cable access. In addition all of the equipment in the TV studio could reach the classroom. I was told later that the students called it “The John Malcolm Show.”

I also had the chance to teach on the SUNY-wide network from Albany. There was a union meeting scheduled for the last day of classes so I was able to teach that class, ably assisted by the SUNYSAT staff. (They even did a video intro of me entering the Al Smith Building the location of their studios.) The students could answer questions by telephone. This experience was a good lead-in to what came next.

John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.