When I consider my own personal learning style, I find that I learn the same way I teach. I prefer my instructors to approach course objectives with some dimension, depth and differentiation.
The use of a tool because it is available is simply not acceptable. Each component must have a raison d’être. In the same way that barbecue sauce goes poorly on chocolate cake, the use of a power point that crams too much information onto each slide is distasteful; as is the use of the “talking head” as a video component.
As a teacher I am a facilitator of knowledge. I take all the information that is important for my students to understand, measure it, weigh it and present it to them in a logical manner that will help them build understanding. Occasionally, I toss in a formal or informal assessment to gauge misconceptions and to track growth during and after the lesson.
These assessments help me move the lesson along in a direction and speed that will best help student understanding. Thus, a good lesson in my French class will begin with a problem or question to get the learner thinking about the objective. Next we share our perspectives. The whiteboard lesson will take the intangible thoughts and give them a bit of structure. Next we can insert applicable video or reading. Pausing from time-to-time to assess grasp of the concept, I can use these videos as opportunities for informal assessment — adjusting speed and direction as necessary. A practice set allows me to see how their understanding has developed during the class.
I teach how I learn. Using all the tools I can to help build real understanding in my students.
On a personal note, I have to say that I was impacted by the lecture style of Professor Steinhoff back in the late 1980s. Anyone who attended Liberty back then likely experienced one of his multimedia extravaganzas. It seemed each lesson brought to bear so much… overhead, posters, slides, VHS, acting… It all made sense when taken in together.
An instructor must differentiate his instruction in order to be effective. Using a broad spectrum of presentation tools and styles helps give the student more angles on the learning objective. So, as a learner, this is what I prefer.
Sena Parks said:
I found it interesting that you spoke in your blog this week about differentiation. This term is being thrown around our school as the administration has decided that the staff does not use enough differentiation in our teaching. One of our principals recently sat in on 40 classes and out of those 37 were all using power point. I think we all use this presentation software because it is easy to use and we have been using it for so long that no one wants to learn something new. I guess it is time to do just that though 🙂 – Sena
Differentiation has been kicked around quite a bit in recent years. Unfortunately, some have it set up as the golden ideal. They sometimes have the idea rolling around their brains that differentiation can be executed on an absolute scale. Total differentiation is a myth. A class of twenty students would potentially require twenty teaching perspectives/ modalities to be active each lesson in order to claim differentiation. You will not be able to tailor every lesson to each student, but you should be changing-up your techniques often enough to feed all of you little sheep from time-to-time.
Using different tools to present the objectives will move you along the path in your administrators’ eyes. More importantly, your students will benefit from a class that is different from what they just left. I try to hold on to a new tid-bit when I pick one up. It gives me a competitive advantage with my students in that they see this fresh new approach to presenting academic information that none of their other classes seem to know about…yet. Once I pass the nugget to my colleagues, I have long since begun digging into the next big thing. We can’t stagnate. There are so many great new tools being developed right this moment. It’s impossible to be up to speed on all of them. Pick one and own it.