We invite you to consider leading a BILL course. You don't have to be professionally trained or an expert; all you need is an informed interest in a topic and a desire to share that interest with others. BILL members are eager to learn new ideas, engage in stimulating discussion, expand themselves intellectually and culturally, and find once again the pleasure of learning. They tell us how pleased they are with BILL and how much they look forward to the next term's courses and special presentations. But it is not only class participants who are pleased; course leaders tell us again and again how much they enjoy working with such mature, motivated students.
Most courses have six class meetings, one each week over six weeks; a few courses meet only three times, one class each week. Classes meet for 1.5 or 2 hours in the late morning or early afternoon at several convenient community locations. our six-week fall term runs from the end of September to the beginning of November, and the spring term runs from the end of February to the beginning of April.
Many prospective course leaders first send us their preliminary ideas for the content and format of a possible course. We will provide some feedback, with suggestions to help develop a more complete proposal. As you write the proposal, we recommend that you review course descriptions in a recent BILL catalog or check the Course Information section of the BILL website. It is helpful to us if you prepare the proposal in the format of a BILL catalog page, with the headings of sections as shown below.
Titles matter a lot in conveying that the course will be interesting, stimulating, and accessible. An example of that importance is shown in a recent news report about how a college course significantly increased its enrollment when its title was changed from "Medieval History" to "Castles, Dungeons, and Dragons."
In a paragraph or two, explain what you intend to do in the course. Be clear about the course content, but also try to catch the reader's attention. Use action verbs, mention topics and areas of special interest, perhaps ask a few intriguing questions that illustrate the sort of issues the class will consider. Readers will want to know not only what the course content will be, but also what approach you will have to the subject (lectures, discussion, images, film, etc.). Many of our members want and expect to be engaged actively in their classes, so most courses allow time for discussion and questions. Recent BILL catalogs will show that many leaders use two paragraphs; the first, longer paragraph describes course content, a shorter second paragraph tells how the course will be conducted (lectures, lectures and discussion, largely discussion, etc.). It might be helpful if you indicate something about the sequence in which you will consider the topics; this is sometimes called "the flow of the course."
Describe briefly your background, especially as it relates to the content of the course. As stated above, course leaders do not need a formal degree in the subject; a lively and informed interest in the topic is enough.
How will people obtain any material you want them to read? If they are to obtain a book, give precise information (title, author, year, ISBN). Explain how they will get any articles or other items (handouts in class; email attachments, other).
What is the minimum number that will make it worthwhile for you to prepare and lead the course, and what is the maximum number you are willing to have?
In which term, fall or spring, would you like to offer this course? On which mornings and afternoons during the week will you be available to meet the classes? Try to supply as many mornings and afternoon options as possible to help us in the difficult task of making up the schedule. Also, to help in assigning classrooms, let us know if you have any audio-visual (AV) needs (data projector, DVDs, etc.).
Your first submission is likely to get feedback in two stages. First, the chairperson of the Curriculum Committee will acknowledge receipt of the submission. She or he might have some preliminary suggestions for refining the title and description, as well as ask for clarification of the operational details. In the second stage, the proposal goes to the BILL Curriculum Committee. Members of the committee try to look at the course information from the point of view of a BILL member who is deciding whether to sign up for this course. Is the content understandable; is the approach clear; are there signs that it will appear to be interesting? After this, you might be asked to further sharpen up the course information.
After final approval by the Curriculum Committee, the chairperson will contact you. It might take a month or so before we will be able to tell you when and where your classes will take place because we have to work out which time blocks are available at the various classroom venues in the community.
Download a Course Proposal Form here.
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