Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.




I have been teaching in my discipline for several years and I am curious about practices that might improve both my teaching and the success of my learners. I would like to try a few new techniques in my class, but I’m unsure where to start, how big a change I should make initially, or whether the strategy I decide to implement will make a difference to outcomes or to learner satisfaction with my course.

“One of the toughest moments in my teaching career was as a guest lecturer for a face-to-face course in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University. Most of my teaching up to that point had been as an instructor for a series of fully online courses. Now I was being asked to do the reverse of my experience – the dreaded lecture hall experience in front of 200 students, all of whom came to class armed with a laptop, cellphone, or tablet.

My colleague asked that I not lecture for the full hour, but instead create an interactive experience that would engage the students and allow them to participate throughout the class as a purposeful demonstration of a lecture topic on knowledge construction. My heart still beats rapidly when I think back to that day. I had to be fully prepped with an engaging set of activities for an hour or be prepared to potentially “bomb”.

My approach was straightforward:

  • I used Google to research teaching practices for bringing interactivity and engagement to large-scale lectures.
  • I researched how to employ the students’ own technology effectively in lecture halls to support learning engagement and lesson outcomes.

The result was a one-hour lecture divided into three parts that involved the students individually, in pairs, and as a whole class, using three interactive activities linked to the ideas associated with knowledge construction. I think it worked, but I went away wondering how I would handle the same group of students over an entire course, and what framework I might use to research teaching strategies for large-scale lecture experiences in the future.

The possibilities are endless!”