“First exposure to material before class is not a new idea; many of us routinely assign readings, papers or problem sets as preparation for class” (Bowen, 2012, p.59). It is easy to assign reading but it’s hard to enforce it. This is the new millennium, we have a pile of resources at our fingertips. The challenge is figuring out which resources and/or teaching techniques will help motivate our students.
What scares me as an instructor, is to have students that look like deer’s in head lights. This is defiantly not my goal. I try my best to encourage students to do the readings I assign, but as a student myself I fully understand the difficulty in finding the time. If there is no assignment or evaluation tied to my readings, there is no real gain, and it makes it less of a priority in my busy schedule. As adult learners our time is valuable. We are trying to juggle work, family life and school.
On the flip side, as an instructor, I find it real hard if my students haven’t done their readings. I feel like I am delivering a pile of bad news. I don’t want to spend my two-hour class listing off facts and reading from a PowerPoint. I want to be engaging my students in discussions. I want to target the areas of information where they are struggling the most. I want to enhance their learning with activities to help them apply their new knowledge. My goal is for my student to walk out of class feeling like that have learned something valuable, not with their heads spinning with new information, wondering how they will pass their final evaluations.
I want to create the classroom experience Weimer (2016) describes, “What students need are not hard or easy courses, but course experiences that result in lots of learning- where they master the material, further develop the sophisticated learning skills necessary for lifelong learning, and where the encounter leaves them breathless to learn more.”
In our program, we have an online platform where our students have access to all the PowerPoint presentations and handouts ahead of time. We encourage our students to read over them before class. When students take the time to do the readings the whole classroom atmosphere changes. Classroom time can be spent working on applying that new information instead of scrambling to take notes and memorizing facts. I am not saying that you won’t need to teach the information, but you can focus on the area of concern, quality, instead of quantity of information. “What research shows is that learners in courses that incorporate online learning in some fashion, often called “hybrid” courses, learn more than people who only have traditional classroom meetings and resources” (Draves, 2014, p.40). The struggle is finding new ways to encourage and motivate students to use the resources they have, so they can come to class prepared.
Since starting this course on Media Enhanced Learning, I have found lots of great resources to incorporate into my classroom. I am most excited about the learning site Kahoot. I think by using Kahoot’s to create interactive online quizzes/games, I can encourage the students to do their pre-readings. I would use this evaluation tool at the start of every class or every couple of class when new material is introduced. I would base these games on information from their readings and then we can walk through the results together. In chapter 4 of “Teaching Naked,” they explain the importance of having low stake assessments, with high standards to help motivate our students. “By giving consideration to the format of exams and examples we use, faculty can increase motivation and lower stress” (Bowen, 2012, p.97). These types of games and assessment are a great way to encourage students in a low-stress environment. The evaluations don’t count for marks but students have an idea of how they are doing. With an online game, the instructor can see what areas most of the students answered correctly and focus on the areas they are struggling in. This can save valuable class time and hopefully provide more time to focus on applying the new knowledge. I am mainly a clinical instructor so I am really looking forward to the next time I get to fill in for a theory class to try out my Kahoot’s app. I will have to give my students advance notice so they can be prepared with their devices and with their readings.
Bowen, J.A. (2012). Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Draves, W. (2014). How to Teach Adults. River Falls: Lern.
Weimer, M. (2016, March 16th). It’s Not About Hard or Easy Courses. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from Http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/its-not-about-hard-or-easy-course
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