As an instructional designer, I spent lots of time working with faculty and trying to convince them to try something new, even if we don’t know exactly how it will work out. Often, it’s near the beginning of term, and there just isn’t time to think things out, and often the syllabus ends up looking like it did the last five times it was offered. Sure, the readings change, but the activities and the assessments don’t. And that is where the learning comes! Sometimes I get discouraged, it’s true.
And then today I read a post in my RSS reader in which an instructor talks about how her teaching has changed over the last few years. She’s moved away from two 10 page papers (which is, come to think of it, partly why I moved from an English degree to a different discipline), and to more creative means of assessment. It’s been good for her, and I think good for her students, as well.