We are nearing the end of the first semester at RIT after many years on a quarter calendar. For me, anyway, this inaugural term has been a delight.
I taught Professional Writing, a course focused on writing for magazines. With 15 weeks to work with, students were able to tackle a major project, a feature article of 2,000 to 2,500 words, along with a complementary online piece of around 500 words. The work included secondary research and interviews and—the real benefit—three drafts with two weeks between each, something practically impossible under 10-week quarters.
This final week I’ve been meeting individually for a half hour with each of the students. I find I know their subjects thoroughly now, so we have substantive conversations that are much richer than what was typical in the past. That is, I’ve also had time to learn.
The class meets Monday, Wednesday, Friday for 50 minutes. At RIT for the past 25 years I’ve taught classes that met twice a week in two-hour blocks, which were especially good for in-class activities, and I miss that option now. But the 50-minute class has its strengths: my energy doesn’t flag, for one thing, and the shorter time span focuses the mind.
There was one big challenge for fall. After a second three-day weekend (we had none of these under quarters) we were instructed to follow the Monday schedule on Tuesday. That is, Tuesday was Monday. This led to all sorts of hilarious discussions. I even resorted to a short PowerPoint presentation to work out the details with the class.
Aside from that hiccup, I’d say our switch to semesters has been a success.