One of three situations is before you.
You have been assigned a course that is unequivocally one of your least favorite to teach.
You are teaching the same course for the umpteenth time.
It is your first time teaching. First. Time. Ever.
And believe it or not, all three of these educators are similarly positioned because you consciously think to yourself “I have to find a way to make it through this term and appear to effortlessly make it through without faltering or running out of steam for both my and the students’ sake. How is THAT possible?!”
Can real discussions ... real, thoughtful, meaningful, interesting, thought-provoking discussions authentically and realistically happen in the online classroom?! Naturally, you expect me to indicate the response is "yes."
However, let's face it. For those who teach online courses, the discussions can oftentimes seem like anything but. You post discussion questions. Students post responses. And a few classmates comment with the good old “I agree!” You all keep rolling on down the train track and never take a diversion from the straight and narrow.
Frankly, for this reason, you can sometimes dread going into the online classroom - even during the weeks when the topic is one of your favorites because ... well ... you know what you'll likely find. It does not feel like much of a discussion, and you sure wish you could change that without having to put in a lot of work and time.
I have just the remedy, and here's a technique you can try today even if you have discussion questions (DQs) that you are not at liberty to change!
No thrills. No frills. The message of the day is begin a presentation on time, and complete it on time as it shows respect for the audience's time. When you fail to do either or both, then the message you send to your audience is "I do not care about your time." Plain and simple.
Your audience members who have shown respect by arriving early or on time are due the same respect. You may ask what to do when you have a glitch with the technology that causes a delay or what to do if a person in a key position has yet to arrive and you must wait for his/her arrival before you begin. Don't you worry for a second. You've got this.
You heard the lectures from your parents growing up. And then you went to school and heard even more lectures. And once you arrived to college, you were just about lectured-out. But now you teach (or you make presentations as part of the work you do), and you do what you know best. You lecture! Okay. Perhaps you do not, but when I know when I first stepped into the college classroom in 2002, that’s what I did!
Regardless of whether lecturing is the focal point of your teaching (or presentation) or not, remember the points herein to help you work toward achieving your goals while inviting student participation during the session. If you do so - if you try these tips - then your students will walk away tuned in and having actually learned, and you will leave class with a sense of accomplishment in having achieved new heights in student engagement! (And you'll notice "presentations" keeps sneaking into this article; these tips are applicable to anyone who's standing before an audience and who wants to make it a captive one, leaving everyone wanting more. So if you present in any capacity, replace "lecture" or "class" with "presentation," and charge on!)
My time spent over the last several years teaching in higher ed and providing professional, faculty development, and educational technology strategy for a content provider - you know ... we called them publishing companies before the digital evolution - uniquely positions me to view sales from both sides of the desk.
Educators want what will impact learning, and sales force members are ready and willing to provide just that. However, if a professor has been teaching a certain way for decades or if even for only a few short years, change can be uncomfortable.
This post is prompted by a Fall 2015 conversation with an edtech sales professional. I shared these three ideas with her to which she repeatedly responded with a contemplative "Interesting ...." Let's see if you have a similar reaction.
Have you ever sat in a meeting, a class, a teleconference, or in a webinar, reached the end, then thought, "Okay ... so ... what do I do now?"
Each person's time is incredibly precious, and we all want as many minutes in the day as possible filled with meaningful endeavors. Okay. Well ... for the most part. Whether you want every last one of your 1,440 minutes of the day consumed with meaning or not, I'm sure you will agree that you want as few of those 1,440 minutes wasted as possible because let's face it; those meetings, calls, and webinars that conclude without you receiving a specific plan of attack (or any kind of plan of attack) can really do something to you!
As such, when you present - and this includes educators in the classroom, too - always give your audience a call-to-action (CTA). (And if you are in marketing, you are already familiar with this term, right?)