Open letter from Rolf Pfeifer
Hi students and participants in the ShanghAI Lectures
Last week, due to technical problems and due to a relatively long introduction, we were losing quite a bit of time on the first part of the lecture (which is normally taught by myself). Some students suggested doing less switching to other sites in order not to lose too much time. I am happy to do that and give it a try.
Please note that this is a 6 ECTS points, which normally includes 4 hours of lectures per week plus exercises. Since we are on-line only two hours per week, we have to cover a lot of the material through reading, mostly using the book "How the Body Shapes the Way We Think," but also additional slides (with notes) and papers. I do think that this way of proceeding is appropriate for students at this - advanced - level. What I am trying to do during the short 1-hour lecture time is to pick out some really nice topics, to discuss and visually illustrate them. In addition, I am trying to create and atmosphere of a cool, global virtual lecture hall, the 21st century being the area of globalization. With the study groups for the exercises, we are trying to build intercontinental and intercultural bridges. All this is designed to build a community encompassing students from the entire planet. During this lecture, I would like to actively include all the participating sites, which also adds to the global nature and creates a mood of internationality, even though, admittedly, this takes up some valuable time.
The two guest lectures that we normally have during the second hour are meant to show you different perspectives on the field, not only my own. And we try to have a mix of lecturers from around the world. Unfortunately, last week, due to technical problems, during the second guest lecture by Dr. Yukie Nagai of Osaka University, which by the way, was truly excellent, we could not show her highly instructive and entertaining videos. We will try to improve, but the technology is so complex that glitches always occur. We inform the guest lecturers that the target audience - you - is highly interdisciplinary and that they cannot expect a lot of prior technical knowledge. As you have experienced yourself, some lecturers adhere to this requirement and some don't. Also, here we try to do our best.
At this point, I would really like to thank our technical support staff, in particular Nathan Labhart, Daniel Germann, Markus Lehmann, the SWITCH Support Desk, and all of you who are making this possible in your own universities.
We started the project in 2009 when the lecture series was broadcast from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China (thus the name ShanghAI Lectures). It is an experiment in global teaching and so all your comments and reactions are highly welcome and useful to us. We will carefully evaluate all your input in order to design the optimal teaching methods of the future. So please, do let us know what you think. We are interested in constructive criticism - but you are also allowed to say when you like something :-).
Let me take the opportunity to encourage all of you to participate in some of the interest groups, or if you like, create your own.
Munich, 23 October 2011, Rolf Pfeifer