I have been teaching in my discipline for several years and I am curious about practices that might improve my teaching and the success of my students. 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, whether my techniques will be affective to all students, or whether the strategy I decide to implement will make a difference in student learning outcomes or their satisfaction with my course.

Scholar Scenario (Ontario Extend, 2017)

Video intro to the Ontario EXTEND short online module about Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).

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.

Group Photo

Image Source: CC MCGunner on Imgur

My instructor 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!