Microteaching Session #fslt13

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 12.11.20 PMClicking on the screenshot of opening ppt slide just above will download a document with sound.
The context, generally

The course is “Teaching in Higher Education,” which enrolls graduate students and postdocs who are planning for future faculty careers; the participants are from multiple disciplines/fields, are wonderfully diverse –  ability, age, class, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation and other personal, social and cultural identities.  I’ll be teaching the Fall13 course with a graduate student intern – the student is a friend, mentee/mentor, and was enrolled in a section of the course when I taught it during Fall11. Based on feedback from students – including my upcoming co-teacher – we’re incorporating short digital bits within the weekly “Preparing for Class…” memos to provide links, transitions, connections between sessions.  The digital bit might be a vodcast one week, a single slide another, a set of directions for a short quiz or response-required followup; whatever we chose/model, the link/OER will be embedded in the weekly “Preparing for Class…” memo.

As outcomes for this sample, which would be part of the memo between Classes 1 & 2, we’d have two in mind:

  • to engage students in a “two-eyed” reflective moment as they move, as Myles Horton notes, from where they are (after Class 1) to where they want to be (as they are engaged in preparing for Class 2)
  • to animate and illustrate key concepts that will help students make the transition from one session of ideas to a next

One thing I know from these class sessions is that students need a couple of types of closure / wrapping up: one in the minute, and one as they prepare to re-engage for a next week. I’m hoping that providing a digital bit of some sort within the memo will be a way we can make use of our own two-eyed view to mix synthesis and transition together.

Context for this digital bit

Session One would have focused on (1) “What is learning?” based on pre-work including reading excerpts from folks like Frank Coffield, Stephen Brookfield, Diane Halpren, Septima Clark; (2) “What is pedagogy?” and how / why we make these; and (3) “What will we do this semester as learners and teachers?”

This segment is a lecture-presentation to be embedded in the “Preparing for Class 2” memo that goes live the day following Class 1. These memos provide a narrative overview of “to do” and “due” items listed on the Course Calendar, and always feature at the end a description of the ARA – Active Reading (or Responding) Assignment – due ahead of the next class.

For Class 2, the readings will include something like the following:

  • Articles for a jigsaw / gallery walk activity:
    • Two articles on learning theory – to be determined (swapping out two recent for two new),
    • one article by James Zull on workings of the learning brain, and
    • one article by Karl Smith on how/why/when of learning in high performing teams.
  • Three short videos – likely one on art-science of learning (neuroscientist delivers the presentation); one on creativity with Ken Robinson; one on course design we’ve developed.

The ARA will likely focus on two things:

  • synthesizing summary addressing essential messages/analysis of the one article each student reads to prepare for the jigsaw, and
  • devising three discussion points/core questions drawn from review of video presentations/lectures.


  1. Hi Ilene
    Loved the presentation. I really felt engaged with it. You drew me in, I felt included through the use of ‘you’. There was that sense of awareness of audience.
    There was a strong theoretical background to the presentation yet at the same time it was accessible to less experienced staff.
    On a practical note, the slide design was elegant and varied. Nice use of images.
    I liked the use of analogy, metaphor and imagery. I think this helped engage me.
    I felt your passion for the subject. You presented in a clear, measured way yet allowed the passion to come through. I tend to get a bit overexcited when passionate in my teaching so it is useful for me to reflect on this!
    I would be interested to hear more about your group exam. Sounds exciting!
    Having written all that, I find myself thinking (as you do in any feedback situation), “what could be improved?” I am afraid Ilene, I can’t think of anything! I just think you have demonstrated a great example of a 10 minute online presentation. So opening it up to anyone else, thoughts please?
    Best Wishes

    • Thanks, Neil, for your comments; coming from you, the words are both meaningful and appreciated. Over the past year, I’ve been re-designing the course where this sort of short “intersession” vodcast would become a regular feature. Thinking through what I’ve experienced / observed these two years with the #fslt mooc has help me consider how, why, what of providing a “teacher” voice between sessions.

  2. Hi Ilene
    I am very happy that I succeeded to open your slides with sound, yesterday I didn’t ..

    Your presentation is fantastic. I was wondering how you can present so many important questions in a short time. But you could, you had prepared so well and gathered your experiences (and literature of course).
    You can trigger thinking, I do appreciate this presentation.
    I had homely feelings because I used to work in a teacher education in Finland where we had the same atmosphere and principles.
    Thanks for sharing

    • Hi Heli – Thanks for the ideas you trigger here for me in your response to the post. I’d value hearing more about and/or having you point me in the direction of things I might be able to access in English to learn more about the principles you see as in common. Something you’ve written, perhaps?!?!

      As I write this, I’m meeting tomorrow with my friend/student/colleague who’s the fall intern/co-teacher to talk about setting a template for creating the other 14 of these. Your sense that the ideas/questions were more enough than too much helps – I think this one might be the benchmark for “don’t try to say or do more than this in a single 10 minute digital bit we present.”

      • I wish I had written articles in English but I haven’t. Only Finnish. It was so busy at work and no time to think and write.Now I have time but not the practice any more, no institution to explore teaching and learning. But I want to follow you and come to the virtual conference to listen ..

  3. Hi Ilene
    Thank you for your presentation, just as Neil, I really enjoyed it. I think the idea of using these ‘vodcasts’ is great, certainly something that I would consider in my own practice. The use of images really enhanced the delivery, but I also really liked the diagram on slide 7. And the image of the historic classroom, some things really don’t change! I feel that the question could be reinforced more to the content or be posed in a more direct manner, but I appreciate that this very much depend on your learners. A reference slide might be helpful for those that would like to follow up some of your material. Just as Neil, I could feel your passion for the topic coming through. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Best wishes,

    • Thanks, Lisette, for noting the combo of images with diagrams, as well as posing possible shifts in terms of directness and resources. Working through this in the company of you all as respected practitioners and colleagues has been hugely helpful in pushing my thinking about how to create this digital bits so that they work for students in the course and yet can stand as OERs independent of the course – and beyond it as the students move into their professional lives. I’m meeting with my co-teacher on Monday so will include these ideas in our conversation and see what I can turn up in a new version that incorporates your feedback.

  4. Hi Ilene

    Thanks so much for openly sharing your presentation. I have found it really thought-provoking on many levels.

    It’s great to learn more about your work and how you prepare for and deliver your classes. This is a very skilled presentation. Excellent slides and great fluent delivery. Wish I could do it!

    But your first slide has left me puzzled, because it appears to oppose lecturing to pedagogy which I know is not what you intended and certainly not what the following slides convey.

    Isn’t lecturing just one of the many pedagogical approaches we could take? Of course lecturing can promote passivity in students, but it doesn’t need to. Not that I am advocating lecturing over more collaborative, interactive forms of teaching, just thinking that there is a time and place for different pedagogical approaches. Do you discuss this in your class?

    Your presentation has got me thinking ☺ Thanks!

    • Hi Jenny – Spot on, as usual, in your comments. The opposition is, as you note, not what I want to highlight. Even were I to use this digital bit just in the context of my course, I see how the opening slide could confuse what we would have just talked about in class. You’ve gotten me thinking about what had been my first idea – pairing “common questions” with “better question” (rather than “our question”). So the common question could be “Why Lecture? Why Not Lecture?” with the better one being “Why Pedagogy?’ More mulling on that tonight – given that, as you note, I do advocate and we do talk about making teaching choices based on what sorts of learning modes and practices we need to provoke in the context of particular learning aims and assessments.

      Thanks, Jenny, in return for getting me to thinking!

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