Traditional education typically involved the teacher and textbook being the purveyors of all knowledge. Instructors relied on lecture and text readings to present what they thought students needed. As we have gained a better understanding of pedagogy; and the access to information via technology has increased, the role of the instructor has evolved. See the video below to hear Eric Mazur, Professor of Physics and Dean of Applied Physics at Harvard deliver a message to faculty about the effectiveness of lecturing. The video is rather long but insightful. Consider the points Dr. Mazur makes during the video and compare them with your current teaching strategies.
Confessions of a converted Lecturer - Dr. Eric Mazur
Different types of Interaction
As a rule of thumb, instructors should include some type of interaction with their students every 5 minutes of class. This rule applies to any type of learning environment. What's that, are you wondering how to achieve this? Check this out for each learning environment:
- Face-to-Face class
- This one is the most simple. Ask students questions, wait for them to answer. When possible (as much as possible), provide opportunities for multiple students to answer, and allow for peer-to-peer discussion.
- Synchronous Distance Learning
- Provide polling questions or ask students to answer questions via the audio feed, chat area, or other available web conferencing feature. Additionally, ask follow up questions and involve as many students as possible.
- Use break out rooms if available. This will require preparation prior to class. Give students questions or scenarios and have them discuss them in small groups (3-5 participants per group). After 2-5 minutes, bring the students back to the main room and have them share their discussions or findings.
- Asynchronous Distance Learning - Ok, wait a minute, how do I do this in a class that doesn't meet??? Here's how:
- If you are using recorded lecture, have students pause the video and answer a question (or questions). This can be done on a sheet of paper (very low tech!).
- For a little more high tech approach, have the video stop automatically and only advance after a student answers a question. Their answers can be collected via email or other tool.
- Use discussion boards, email, or other collaborative on-line tool to share questions and answers.
- If students are local, have them meet in person. Yes, you read that right, have them actually meet in person. Having done this personally, an actual face to face meeting with other students creates a greater sense of community within your class. Instructors, don't be afraid to show up to these meetings (if you are invited). Face-to-face meetings can be organized by the instructor too!!