Sunday, February 05, 2017

How to activate students? Ideas for juicing up your teaching

me teaching during the Artificial Intelligence teacher of the year award ceremony. Picture by Niels Taatgen.
I recently attended a workshop at my university about innovations in teaching. There were several ideas that I thought were useful, so I decided to blog about them. Firstly, I attended a workshop on MOOCs by Tom Spits. There are more and more MOOCs. You can actually use those MOOCs to complement your classroom teaching. For example, you can use them in the flipped classroom: students watch the MOOC at home and then you spend the time in the classroom doing assignments and discussing difficult points. I think this makes a lot of sense, because sometimes lectures on MOOCs are excellent, and why would you waste your own time and effort on that? For example, I found this MOOC on methods and statistics excellent. I may actually refer students to that for some components of my Research Methods class. This could be also helpful for students who need a bit more explanation or background information. The only thing you have to watch out for is MOOCs taking place asynchronously with your class, so that students are not able to sign up and watch the lectures.

MOOCs can also be a helpful source of assignments. Of course you should check this with the MOOC teacher, but reusing some of these assignments can save you a lot of time (given that creating assignments takes *a lot* of time...). Moreover, many of these assignments even give automatic feedback, which can help students to practise the material well. Another potential use of MOOCs could be to remedy deficiencies. For example, in a multidisciplinary field like Artificial Intelligence, some students are weak on programming, others on psychology or machine learning. There are plenty of MOOCs in all these areas that students can do to remedy these deficiencies. Advantage of MOOCs over regular university courses is that they can be done at your own pace, and in your own time.

A significant challenge with MOOCs is finding the right one. One place to start is a MOOC search engine: moocse. There are also websites with reviews of MOOCs, e.g., class central. And of course you can follow your favorite academics on twitter and find out when they are teaching a MOOC.

Another teaching innovation are learning communities. mentimeter in the lecture to keep students engaged. And finally, a very simple thing you can do to have students take charge of their learning is to provide lecture slides before the lecture so that students can click links and explore during the lecture (of course this is also tricky, since it may be very distracting for the students...).

In summary, I got quite a few new ideas for enhancing active learning in my classroom. I am planning to check some of these ideas out in the next few weeks, when I am starting to teach again.
Post a Comment