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Smorgasboard of Classes Spice Up IAP

By May K. Tse
News Editor

The Independent Activities Period offers groups around the Institute a unique opportunity to sponsor classes open to all members of the MIT community. Classes range from the strictly informative to sessions focused on the arts to workshops designed to help students with their future careers.

TheMedical Department sponsors a wide range of informative sessions during this month. "Some of the sessions we've had before have been very useful, i.e. stress and time management and headaches. We try to offer these every year because people always come,"said Sally Ciampa, program coordinator for health education services.

For the past two years, there has also been an effort to focus on a specific topic. This year's topic is cancer and as a result there are a lot of new cancer classes this year, Ciampa said. There is also a new class dealing with alcohol and drugs, as well as two new classes for mothers in the MIT community.

In addition to health-related classes, there are also information sessions which give advice to students interested in pursuing careers in medicine. "We've got quite a lot of MITstudents interested in going into medicine Our physicians here love talking with students and employees. It's a nice opportunity for them,"Ciampa said.

Art association sponsors classes

Another series offered during IAPis the Student Art Association series, which offers classes in photography, drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, watercolor, and Chinese brushpainting.

These art classes are also offered during the term, but approximately 150 more students sign up during IAP. "We've turned away about 100 people. We just didn't have space,"said Edward McCluney, director of the association.

"MIT is different in that there are an awful lot of students from science who also know about the arts They want a release from their problem sets and to just relax. Our students are far more well-rounded than people think,"McCluney said.

International dance featured

The International Students Association is sponsoring an international dance series, featuring African dance, salsa and merengue, belly dancing, Greek folk dancing, and Bhangra.

"It's a really good way for people to learn about each other's culture through dance. It's like at [the International Fair] when people look at the dances on stage, people are like, Wow, that's cool.' Now people can learn it too,"said May-Li Khoe '99, who together with her sister Siu-Li Khoe '95, came up with the idea for this new series.

Explaining the beginnings of the program she said, "What we wanted to do with ISAwas to do a program where [students] could dance, and Iwanted to do a program where we could bring people together and start a dance program again."

By contacting teachers they knew through their outside classes, the sisters were able to draw in teachers from a wide variety of places, from the Dance Complex in Central Square to the Cambridge Center for Adult Education to Brown University.

Class aims to improve teaching

This is also the fifth year for "Better Teaching @ MIT", a series focused on improving the teaching skills of both faculty members and teaching assistants.

In addition to the annual workshops such as "How to Speak" and "Effective Visual Techniques", some new topics this year include "Teaching on the Web", "Aha! Turning Students Into Problem Solvers", and "Teaching Teamwork Skills".

"The first two sessions have been well-attended. We had 40 people at the first session and 35 at the second,"said Mark D'Avila, an administrative assistant in the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education. "We like to attract faculty but the majority of people who attended were TAs,"he said.

This IAPseries is part of the Teaching and Learning Laboratory's goal of "improving teaching and learning at the Institute," said Lori Breslow, director of the laboatory.

"What we're trying to do is identify areas of interest to the faculty We want to be more creative and innovative with teaching,"she said.

Class looks at future in workplace

Anew IAPseries this year is "HR@MIT:Working Towards Our Future". The classes focus on human resources topics such as writing resumes, interviewing for jobs, and balancing work with the rest of life.

"The basic idea for the series is to explore issues in the workplace at MITand within the context of the larger community. The series focuses on career development, working in new ways, as well as supporting some of the new initiatives that were developed in the past year," said Peter J. Narbonne, community outreach coordinator for the human resource practices development team, part of the reengineering project.

"We're focusing on MITbut putting it in the perspective of the larger workplace,"he said.