Sunday, December 19, 2004

Geek Channel: Studio Views

Let's model various ideal classroom setups in studio, designing in concert with such technology firms as Hewlett-Packard. Students have cool control-panel countertops with recessable screens and keyboards. Every seat provides sockets for headphones, microphones, USB devices. ADA compliant. I imagine one of those bowl-like rooms, such as at the Woodrow Wilson School @ Princeton.

Viewers in TV land may not currently have access to anything like this studio, where the students are obviously privileged. Like, perhaps a viewer is watching from some camp site in big sky country, out under the stars. That's a privileged position as well. The studio looks like it's probably a big city thing.

Viewers wishing a spot on the cast may apply: it's a rotating line-up, like on game shows, and culturally diverse. The rate of turnover varies. The teachers keep changing as well, some returning periodically. Favorite segments keep recycling from/to the archive, per the Sesame Street model. We needn't retire segments just because the current cast consists mostly or entirely of different faces. Ditto with the puppets.

The tiered countertops in the bowl-shaped amphitheater optionally face a screen, podium, chairs set for conversation -- whatever props the guests need for that day. It's all made-for-TV and directors do the usual tricks with blue screens etc.

Following the lead of Mr. Rogers, we'll sometimes go back stage and reveal these tricks of the trade (maybe not all of them). This isn't cheating: the core product is the programming itself, not the classrooms per se, although I expect the studio mock-ups will inspire more reality-based versions in the field (we'll showcase them too). What's real is the quality of the content we teach. We use tricks of the trade to make the teaching more efficient and effective.

I'm not suggesting that this classroom setting be the main or only focus of geek channel segments, only that it's a good home base, in the way a few porch steps, walls and windows, some garbage cans, give a familiar locus and focus to our much loved Sesame Street domain.

Related reading:
some thread on math-teach
@ Math Forum