Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Last Lecture

Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon graduate school who incorporated phenomenal new teaching methods utilizing technology in his classroom. His perspective students would actually have to form long lines during specific registration, hoping for entry into his course. Randy believed it was extremely important to have fun in everything you do. This belief allowed him to become highly successful in his teaching.

The course that Randy created, with some help from colleague Don Marinelli, was called Building Virtual Worlds. This high-tech course was intended for a double bachelor degree program offered at CMU. The students were so enthusiastic, they almost forgot that the projects they were creating were actually hard work, since they had so much fun doing it. Randy appropriately referred to his course as "edutainment".

What made the Building Virtual Worlds course so unique was that CMU permitted Randy to have total charge and creativity with the students. They had no deans to report to and used only project-based curriculum, as well as a license to "break the mold". The students had intensely fun experiences, including collaborative group projects and field trips. This course helped the students become so knowledgeable and experienced that several companies signed contracts agreeing to hire the students the moment they graduated.

While giving his last lecture, what he called "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams", Randy Pausch used several examples of technology in his presentation. He used old family photos, in-class videos, a model of a virtual studio, graphs, charts, and several props, such as a hat, a football, and several large stuffed animals to aid in demonstrating his ideas and principles. Not only was he an amazing professor, he was an amazing man. Randy Pausch passed away from advanced pancreatic cancer
last summer, in 2008. He wasn't even fifty years old, and left a wife and three children, for whom he gave his last lecture. You can see it here:

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