One of the best things you can do to improve your teaching is to become a student. This is true whether you teach in a university or a primary school, online or face-to-face. Indeed, one of the first things I recommend to academic staff new to teaching online is to take an online course of some sort or another. The subject of the course doesn’t matter – nor, honestly, does whether or not they finish – but what matters is that they have the experience of engaging with teaching materials without having been the one to put them together. I can talk myself blue about the importance of clear instructions or logical course progression, but nothing is as effective in driving these points home as trying to complete a poorly-constructed assignment or navigate a confusing course layout.
Recently, I unexpectedly took my own advice and, unsurprisingly, being in the audience for a TEL presentation has taught me a lot about what does (and doesn’t work) in giving them. I was in Dublin for a workshop on Creating Flipped Classroom Podcasts delivered by Kevin O’Connor, a Learning Technologist with Trinity College Dublin’s Academic Practice and eLearning Team. It was a really smooth and well-constructed session and as I was familiar with the techniques Kevin was teaching, I was able to notice some small details in the presentation and organisation of the session which made it work so well. While I left the session with a long list of things to try in future presentations, two really stuck out:
Embedding a timer in the presentation