Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Requirements for Good Teaching

A while back, I came across an online Faculty Focus article about the top 10 requirements for good teaching. Please see the abbreviated list below. The full article, which was reprinted from the Teaching Professor Newsletter, can be found at the Faculty Focus site. I hope you will click comments below and give us your thoughts on the list and suggest additions and/or deletions.

Good Teaching: Top 10 Requirements by Dr. Richard W. Leblanc (rleblanc@yorku.ca. ):

One. Good teaching is as much about passion as it is about reason.
Two. Good teaching is about substance and treating students as consumers of knowledge.
Three. Good teaching is about listening, questioning, being responsive and remembering that each student and class is different.
Four. Good teaching is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid, but being flexible, fluid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances
Five. Good teaching is also about style.
Six. And this is very important, good teaching is about humor.
Seven. Good teaching is about caring, nurturing and developing minds and talents.
Eight. Good teaching is supported by strong and visionary leadership, and very tangible institutional support—resources, personnel, and funds.
Nine. Good teaching is about mentoring between senior and junior faculty, teamwork, and being recognized and promoted by one’s peers.
Ten. At the end of the day, good teaching is about having fun, experiencing pleasure and intrinsic rewards … like locking eyes with a student in the back row and seeing the synapses and neurons connecting, thoughts being formed, the person becoming better, and a smile cracking across a face as learning all of a sudden happens.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Listening

A recent post by Maryellen Weimer, on her Teaching Professor Blog, was about various principles of teaching proposed by Ronald Markert (reference below). Of the principles outlined, one really caught my attention:

"Good teachers do not talk as much as the less effective colleagues do--Good teachers talk less because their students are talking more."

This principle reminds me of one of my favorite quotes about teaching:

"Teaching is listening, learning is talking" by Deborah Meier.

I used this quote once in a workshop and received some push back from a few faculty members because they believed this statement about teaching is too simplistic. I understand their point, especially in terms of established disciplinary styles of teaching. In any event, I think all teachers should do a little less talking and a lot more listening.

Please give us your thoughts by clicking "comments" at the bottom of this post.

Reference: Markert, Ronald J. (August 2001). What makes a good teacher? Lessons from teaching medical students. Academic Medicine, 76 (8), 809-810.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Prezi and Anatomy of Course Design

NOTE: Use the arrows to click through the Prezi. You can click "play" to watch the YouTube videos embedded in the Prezi; however, please click "pause" if you want to move forward before the video has completed.

Earlier in the week, I conducted a workshop in CTLT's Summer Blitz Series entitled "Anatomy of Course Design." We had a great turnout and an excellent discussion of several factors associated with the design and redesign of courses (face-to-face, hybrid, online). I used an online presentation option, Prezi (www.prezi.com), to organize the flow of the workshop (see my Prezi above). Prezi is an alternative to using PowerPoint and uses a unique philosophy in presentation design and delivery. Instead of a linear flow of slides, as in PowerPoint, your Prezi is constructed on a "canvas" and a path is created through various parts of the Prezi. This is an excellent way to demonstrate the integrated nature of the topics you are discussing and YouTube (and other flash-based videos) can be easily integrated into the Prezi. I invite you to visit the Prezi site to see some examples of very good Prezis (unlike my initial attempt above) and to reflect on how you could use this technology in your courses. An excellent use of this technology could be student-generated Prezi presentations that cover specific topics. The workshop earlier in the week touched on issues, in Dan Pink's book A Whole New Mind, such as design and symphony. Constructing a Prezi may allow students' to use their creativity to design a Prezi that synthesizes various elements of a topic in unique ways using text, images and video.

Please note that at the end of the Prezi above, entitled ANATOMY of Course Design, a stick figure can be seen in the background (this is the type of creativity that will take me places!)

If you have any thoughts on Prezi, please click comments and share them with us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A New Military Insurgency..PowerPoint!

A fascinating article was published in the April 27th edition of the New York Times entitled "We Have Met the Enemy and He is PowerPoint." The article describes the use (or misuse) of PowerPoint in the military. The image above was on the front page of the paper and was a slide in a PowerPoint presentation by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal in a briefing in Kabul (Summer 2009). This image is being used as an example of the current abuse of PowerPoint in the military. Some notable comments and quotations from the article expand on the criticism of PowerPoint :

"PowerPoint makes us stupid"
“Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable”
"...the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making"
“hypnotizing chickens"

This NYT piece mirrors articles and blog posts I have read about the use of PowerPoint in education. However, some comments on the article (in the web version) provide a rebuttal to the criticisms of PowerPoint. A portion of a notable comment is provided below. Please click COMMENTS below to give us your thoughts on this article or PowerPoint.

Comment on NYT article (April 27, 2010):
"PowerPoint is just a technology. It is the misapplication of that technology that is at the heart of the problem these military commanders are concerned about. But I'll go further and say the problem is cultural. No one wants to spend the time reading or writing technical papers that discuss the details beyond the depth that PowerPoint allows. In schools and in business people have been conditioned to look for the bullet points. Whether it's medical students learning to diagnose pneumonia or NASA managers trying to address a problem with the space shuttle, no one wants to listen to more than the bullet points. They ignore the connections between lines that form the context of the analysis and ultimately the solution."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Will You Be My Course Hero?

Course Hero is a relatively new academic social-networking site. This is an electronic repository for course notes, homework assignments, lab reports and examinations for many disciplines. Students from approximately 3,500 colleges and universities have posted material to the site. For a fee, or so many uploads to the site, students can download the electronic resources. According to the web site, 93% of the members of Course Hero report that the site helped them maintain or increase their GPA. One section of the site suggests that using its resources will allow a student to work less and receive better grades. One of the marketing slogans for the site is JOIN (course hero)-ACCESS (best resources)-ACE (your classes).

A recent article in Chemical and Engineering News outlined some frustrations by faculty members and raised the issue of copyright infringement. In the article, Eric S. Slater, manager of copyright permissions and licensing at the American Chemical Society, had the following comments:

"Anything that a professor creates for his class--lecture notes or PowerPoint presentations--is copyrighted."

"Students might think they're doing a service by uploading to Course Hero, but it almost seems to me that they are aiding and abetting Course Hero in copyright infringement."

A little searching reveals that notes and examinations from Murray State University are on this site. The availability of sites such as Course Hero raise a number of issues in higher education that must be addressed. You will be my hero if you click comments and give us your thoughts on this subject!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Khan Academy: A Game Changer?

According to its web site, The Khan Academy "is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere." The driving force behind this academy is Salman (Sal) Khan (see clip above). According to his bio, Sal has BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, a BS degree in mathematics and a MBA from Harvard Business School. More recently, he was senior research analyst at a Bay Area investment fund. Sal has generated over a thousand instructional videos (available on YouTube) in areas such as mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, and various areas of finance. The vision of the academy outlines its goal of providing high-quality instruction that can be delivered online (and offline) and at the pace of individual students.

I have watched several of the chemistry videos and generally found them to be of high quality and engaging. Many of the videos at the Academy web site are appropriate for college-level classes and raise important questions about how these videos (or similar videos found on the web) should or could be used in our courses. I invite you, if possible, to view a few videos in your discipline, or a related discipline, and consider the questions below. If you have any comments, please click the link below and give us your thoughts.

1. What are your thoughts on having these types of instructional videos available on YouTube? Can they make an impact on K-12 or higher education?

2. Is there a place for these videos in your courses at Murray State?

3. Should we be thinking about how to design our courses around the availability of these and other quality instructional materials available on the web?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Daniel Pink on Motivation

On his Technology and Learning Blog, Joshua Kim recently had a post about grade inflation and the possibility that grades are a discouraging force in terms of student creativity and originality. In this post, he mentions a TED talk by Daniel Pink on the science of motivation (see presentation above). This is a truly interesting talk about motivation and the apparent mismatch between what scientists have discovered about motivation and current business practices. I invite you to watch Pink's TED presentation and think about how this topic might apply to higher education.