Developing teaching materials

In my former life as a professor in Canada, one of the things I was always weakest with when it came to teaching was writing class notes. I could write slides well, and explain things well, and demonstrate things well, an answer questions well, but my class notes often ended up a bit sparse, which was a common complaint from students.

As I’m now teaching English more and more, I’m finding the need for good notes is becoming stronger. Kocachic has not officially had its grand opening yet, but we are dealing with students nearly every day, and the need for good notes has hit me quite hard.

I could just use an existing book, but existing books are annoying because:

  1. No single book has what I want. If I were to provide all the information I want to my students, I would need a big array of books. (Well, I have a big array of books, but my students don’t, which leads to….)
  2. My students don’t want to buy books. They’re already shelling a lot of money for classes and don’t want to spend more.
  3. Books cannot be modified! This is both a legal problem (copyright and all that) and also a technical problem, because I don’t have the books in electronic form.

So I’ve started making my own material, just out of necessity. I went into it without much of a plan, and I’m already up to some 30 pages of notes and worksheets and stuff I’ve made.

Once I finish a couple months with a couple students, I’m hoping to have a large enough corpus of notes for them that I can release something on GitLab. The project has given me a big appreciation for the Creative Commons. Not just the set of licences with the CC name, but the community itself, the “Commons”, which is full of drawings and photos and things that I now feel very fortunate to have been able to steal for my own teaching purposes. I’m excited to get to a point where I can release something to give back to the commons.