Time for a "Teaching Selfie"?
As educators, we are used to being in front of a class. I remember a colleague telling me how teaching was akin to giving a stage performance – the proverbial “sage on the stage”! And the more we teach, the more we occupy the centre stage and become the hub around which learning revolves in spite of our proclaimed affection for “student-centred learning”.
Nothing wrong with that of course, except that as educators we hardly see things from the other side of the fence. What is it that the learner sees? What is the learning experience like for them? Of course, we can glean how satisfied our learners are through course evaluations and other feedback. But more than that, is it time for educators to take a teaching “selfie”?
And by that I mean taking a serious, critical and objective look at how well educators are doing their real job – helping learners maximise the learning opportunity – rather than simply “to teach”. Sure, where practical, we can ask colleagues for constructive advice on our teaching, but we need to develop our own senses rather than depend on those of others. In short, we need to be able to reflect on what we are doing, why we are doing it, and why we are doing it the way we are doing it. That’s what a teaching selfie is all about.
Here are some selfie questions:
- Why those learning outcomes? And if you don’t have learning outcomes, why not?!
- Why do learners select or take your course? Would they still do if they had a choice?
- Why is your course organised the way it is? Is there a better organisation?
- Why is the content delivered the way it is? Is it really for your benefit and convenience or that of the learner?
- Why do you structure assessments the way you do? How do you know that is the most effective structure, and what do learners get out of it?
- Why those particular assignments? What would learners have to go through in order to complete those assignments?
- What do you think learners learn from your course? What do learners actually learn and do you actually know?
If you’re an educator who has been delivering the same course the same way since the dark ages, these kind of questions might seem rather awkward and uncomfortable. Let’s just say you started teaching before cameras were invented. Now’s the time to take up photography.
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