This course is scheduled to be designed in the summer and taught and evaluated in Fall 2006.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Teaching Strategies?

I am currently reading the book How to Run Seminars and Workshops: Presentation Skills for Consultants, Trainers and Teachers. I am finding it very enjoyable, maybe because it is so product/process oriented (very little theory involved).

I will be using some of the strategies presented in the book to prepare my lessons for the online class. I know that I have alot of material which I can use for the class, but I am not very happy with it. Some of the activities and projects I will keep. What I need to do is redesign the presentation of those activities and projects and will use the strategies presented in this book as guidelines.

The first strategy presented is the UPPOPPR. I am not sure if I will use this for all the introductions, both the class and for the individual units, but I will definitely use it for the course introduction. It has seven different sections which need to be included in order to capture the attention of the student: utility, product/goal, process, objective, process justification, proof of ability and review. This needs to go hand-in-hand with the lecture for the unit/chapter, especially if the content lecture will come from the textbook being used. This makes more sense for the course because then those unit introductions can stay the same regardless of the textbook (as long as the units remain the same).

I will do an UPPOPPR application soon to try it out and see how much work it is. What I expect to find is that the first few times I use it will the most difficult, then the process will become easier. So this would mean that I have to use it more than once, for the course and unit introductions.

One very interesting part of the book is the "Personality Parade" chapter. This details different types of people that a trainer can expect to find in a training session. I can see the truth in what he points out and, what is worse, can see myself in almost every one of those types. Ultimately, the success of the training depends on the situation and the trainer. The trainer needs to be ready for all these types and must have his strategy ready for implementation. I can see many of these types in students; the main difference, from education and corporate training, is that in the classroom the students just drop the course, but at the beginning all those types of students are present.

The corporate trainer has to learn to deal with the different personality types and adapt to the situation. Unlike many teachers, the trainer cannot afford to say: "Well, it's their loss. If they don't want to learn, then I shouldn't care either." He wouldn't be in business for very long.

The main difference that I see in what Jolles presents and what many of us do in education is that we don't begin with the audience in mind; we begin with the curriculum. We are so focused on what the student should learn and expect that the student will just take our word for it. One of the keys, according to Jolles, is answering "What is in it for me?" I can see this with our teachers not wanting to learn how to implement technology in their classroom. I can tell them that it will help the students, but until we revise the curriculum and specify that they have to do it as part of their job, they will continue asking "what is in it for me?" So someone recently suggested that we just add it to the job description; they don't do it, they lose their job. But I don't think that is the best way to go. "What's in it for me?" Answer that for them and they will be knocking down our doors to get trained.

So the key is to answer "what's in it for me" for the student. My question now is: for the course, unit, lesson, activity. My gut response is "for all." So the question becomes, "if it is too obvious that that is my strategy will I lose credibility?" Can one go overboard with that?

Interaction is another key point. This is something which I am convinced works in the classroom. The question is how to incorporate that online. Let the students do something so that they get to know someone else and plan something to encourage (force) them to interact. I have to do more research on this topic.

The next chapter is about "effective questioning." Let's see what I learn from that one.