5 tactics to make short classes work

http://www.flickr.com/photos/childofwar/3097124543/sizes/m/in/photostream/Have a short (1-4 hour) class/tutorial to give? Want your students to learn tons and rave about the class? Want them to teach you and stay engaged in the topic moving forward?

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up from running mini-classes in academic and professional settings:

  • Listen to the room
  • Build skills through lessons
  • Let them get their hands dirty
  • Do the boring stuff in advance
  • Follow up with homeworks

These are mostly related to programming-type topics (see here and here from some examples), but I’ll bet the ideas are broadly applicable. Hopefully you can share some of your experiences as either a student or teacher in the comments!

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Advanced LaTeX Workshop

The “LaTeX Intro Workshop” was such a big hit that I was asked to do an advanced workshop as a follow up.


I will cover these main topics:

  • LaTeX Basics
  • GT Thesis Writing
  • Useful packages
  • BibTeX bibliographies
  • Advanced figure tutorial
  • Beamer slides presentation tutorial
  • Beamer poster tutorial

While there is certainly enough minutia within LaTeX to keep someone busy forever trying to learn it all, I decided to focus on some of the bigger-picture topics that might benefit everyone. After all, there’s always google to answer those little specific questions.

Here are the files for the tutorial that will be covered during the talk:


This zip file holds three different tutorials. The first is a tutorial on creating beautiful figures. The second is on creating slideshows in beamer. The third is a short intro to making posters in beamer.

This tutorial will be performed LIVE on March 26th at 3pm in the Homer Rice Instructional Center in the Georgia Tech Library.

PhD Thesis Proposal Presentation

This week I made a presentation to my thesis committee at Georgia Tech to propose the content that will make up my Ph.D. dissertation. I’m happy to say that it went well and I’m on-track to graduate in September of 2009. The video below is an abridged version of the presentation I gave. It’s about 15 minutes long, and gives a general idea of the work I’ve been doing over the past three years as well as what I hope to accomplish before I finish. In a sentence, I propose a way to analyze image statistics locally that improves performance in several medical image processing applications.

On a side note, people interested in creating screen-casts of presentations on a Mac, should consider the program ScreenFlow, which worked great for me! This was also my first presentation created with Apple’s Keynote software, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.

LaTeX Intro Workshop

LaTeX (pronounced lah-tech) is a powerful tool for creating beautiful documents. This post covers a workshop I gave recently introducing LaTeX to some curious graduate students. The materials here show some of the features and walk new users through the basics of using LaTeX.

This would make a nice tutorial for others trying to teach LaTeX as well as enterprising students trying to find a quick way to jump in and start using it. The workshop I taught was part of a class put on by the Georgia Tech Library. I will teach a second class on Dec. 1, 2008. Much of the work in creating these examples was done by David Reid and adopted (slightly) by me.

I began the class with this presentation:

LaTeX Introduction Presentation

This covers what LaTeX is, why it’s useful, and walks the class through the setup of the integrated TeX editor use used, TeXnicCenter. This talk also introduces the examples covered during the workshop. Below is a link to the example files used.

LaTeX Workshop Files

I walked the class through each of the files, explaining peculiarities and pointing out the differences between commands, environments, etc. The workshop finished with a quick summary of some of the other uses of LaTeX including making slides and posters. I also provided links to these very useful resources:

David’s Slideshow
The Not So Short Guide to LaTeX2e

I may try to tape-record the next class and post the video here for anyone interested in watching.