I am currently working in a faculty where among the courses in CS there is one about Computer Graphics. That course was taught last year by a professor who actually has retired, and who was a specialist in the field. The thing is that the Dean has talked to me for putting me in charge of that course in the undergraduate level, mostly because the other lecturers are with no available free time at all; and it will take some time to hire another professor.

The problem that I have is that even I hold a MSc in Computer Science, the knowledge that I have about Computer Graphics is basic. Only what I have followed in my bachelor's a long time ago.

Actually I am little scare of what to do, I have started compiling material for read and prepare my upcoming lectures, but I am afraid that maybe I will not be able to make a good course. In short, what strategy should I follow for lecturing a course in which I have only a basic background? Should I be completely honest in the first session and mention the students that this area is mostly new for me?


2 Answers 2


I have a few additions on top of the related question.

I don't think you should be too concerned about your abilities. Your domain knowledge will be beyond the vast majority of the undergraduate students, and thus you will acquire knowledge very quickly. It is inevitable that you will miss some of the obscurities and fine details in the first time running the course, regardless of your graphics background.

Specifically about Computer Graphics: I had a lecturer who had no background in computer graphics. She was taking the course for the first time, and it was one of the best courses I've experienced as an undergrad.

Factors contributing to success:

  • She took material from the previous lecturer (who had experienced success) and adapted it to her needs.
  • She used many illustrative, well-commented code examples
  • The assignments were fun, the results were impressive, and there was much opportunity for creativity and your own modifications. (bonus marks awarded for 'extension' tasks such as rain, fire, shadow effects)
  • Lectures were absolutely full of practical examples. She wrote code on the spot and demonstrated how they affected the graphics. She solved mathematical equations on the spot and connected them up to code examples.
  • The ideas taught facilitated graphical effects that were impressive and instructive, and with simple code examples. For example, a rain effect is constructed very concisely by randomly generating 2D rectangles, and you can teach billboarding with it. A realistic tree is constructed concisely with a lindenmayer system.

The course website is open to everyone.

I think you should mention that it is your first time teaching it, and ask the students for feedback during the semester (early in the course). They will be more forgiving and more inclined to offer helpful suggestions.

  • 1
    Re: the last paragraph, it's okay to say you haven't taught the course before, but you probably don't want to put your students under the impression you don't know the material (you should prepare thoroughly so you know it well enough before they do). So I wouldn't say you're new to the area, but if someone presses you with a lot of questions you can't answer beyond the scope of the course, it's okay to say, "I don't know, I haven't worked on such things."
    – Kimball
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 4:55

I suggest that you plan for a self-study program in Computer Graphics before you start the first day of this class. If you can't plan a self-study program for your self, then you do not have adequate mastery to teach the course.

You should do all of the exercises and projects yourself. If you can't or won't do this, then you shouldn't teach the course. As you do all these exercises and projects, you should take copious notes on what questions and problems arise, and what you find confusing. Computer Graphics is a well-established branch of Computer Science, so if you find yourself unable to explain the basic concepts clearly, then you shouldn't teach the course.

Finally, you should put some attention to your written communication. Your question has many grammatical mistakes. E.g. "Actually I am little scare of what to do, ..." should be: "Speaking frankly, I am a bit scared regarding what I should do." No matter what you are teaching, speaking and writing well is a vital skill.

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