How to Collect Bright Ideas About Teaching

bright ideaNow that the academic year is drawing to a close and many of us are looking ahead to next year and the courses that we’ll be designing or re-tooling, I think it’s time to start the Teaching Carnival series back up again. Don’t know what I mean? Allow me to explain.

Back in August of 2005, I noticed that people were blogging their thoughts about the courses they were prepping. For me, communicating with others who teach and asking them what they’re up to is one of the best ways to reflect upon my own teaching and to be inspired by new and different ideas. Encouraged by the “carnival” genre of blog entries — represented to me most prominently at the time by the History Carnival and the Philosophy Carnival — I proposed a Teaching Carnival. What grew out of this proposal was a traveling collection of constantly updated links to blog entries about teaching in higher education (See the list of 28 editions of Teaching Carnival below).

I soon learned that I wasn’t the only one who found it helpful to read about what others were doing in their classrooms. And the kind of generosity and creativity evident in the blog posts collected for the carnivals is pretty much the same spirit that animates ProfHacker.

In terms of content, anything goes for a blog entry to be included in a Teaching Carnival. As I wrote a friend at the time, useful entries could range from “I can’t believe summer’s over and I’m headed back into the classroom” to “Here’s a complete version of the syllabus I’ve been working on” to “Wow, that was a weird first day of class!” to “Check out this assignment I’ve been using.” Anyone who teaches in higher education is welcome to contribute, from grad students to senior, tenured professors. You can get a good sense of what kinds of materials get included by perusing the many, many links to be found in previous editions of the carnival.

The most recent Teaching Carnival was published just under a year ago. Why the gap in publication? Well, I had every intention of starting the series back up again — and a number of people volunteered to help out — but then ProfHacker was born, and my online activity was occupied in keeping this new project going.

However, my fellow profhackers Jason and, especially, Billie have both expressed interest in seeing the series continue and be integrated into the ProfHacker project. And so, although we haven’t worked out all of the details just yet, you should expect to see new editions of Teaching Carnival in the coming year.

If you are interested in either helping out with the project in some way or in putting together one of the editions of the carnival, please share some basic information about yourself with us by filling out this online form. Thanks!

Teaching Carnival homepage

The main site for the Teaching Carnival project is What follows is a complete list of links to all of the previous editions, some of which are no longer available in their original form — ah, link rot… — but we’ll see what we can do about that as we move forward.

Teaching Carnival 3.0

Teaching Carnival 2.0

Teaching Carnival 1.0

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by aloshbennett]

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