Time. . . A constant challenge. Instructional preparation, professional development and collaboration, excellent instruction, quality formative and summative assessments, availability for office hours, emails, phone calls, colleagues, paperwork, record keeping, attending meetings, providing resources, the list of “things” goes on and on.
How do we balance everything and still have sanity? That surely is a plurium interrogationum (a loaded question). In order to even have a chance at answering that question, we must break that complex question down. Let’s start in the classroom.
Many instructors are now using discussion forums to help students introduce themselves. This technique allows students to connect with the instructor and each other in new and interesting ways, while saving precious instructional class time. This idea can also be translated to other areas of your course.
An as instructor, I have often considered different ways to deliver content to students effectively and efficiently. One way that I have found to do this is student presentations, but not in the traditional sense.
Traditional student presentations work like this; (1) The student prepares and then presents their content, (2) The instructor assess the content, and (3) The audience sits and listens.
There are, however, several problems with traditional presentations. They require plenty of time for each student to present (instructors often must use several of their class sessions to allow each student to present). They require time for feedback from peers and the instructor. Even when peer feedback is assigned, it is often weak because some students have a difficult time listening to a large number of peer presentations in one sittings and begin to quickly tune the information out.
Rather than these types of presentations that instructors and students alike have sat through for years, I have found that virtual presentations work much better. They allow students to present on information related to course content and receive quality peer feedback, all outside of class time. They also allow students to build their capacity to leverage technology to impact their learning.
Here are four easy steps to execute virtual presentation:
1. Assign a topic
The topic should intentionally connect to course objectives and content and have a distinct purpose. For example, students might synthesize and explain their findings and discuss how they plan to use the information in the future.
2. Specify Guidelines
Details on length, presenter appearance, and audience engagement are crucial in order to facilitate good virtual presentations. With the amount of technology options available, it is also important to provide some expectations and boundaries.
3. Provide a virtual place to share presentations and give feedback
As mentioned above, virtual presentations allow students the opportunity to efficiently receive peer feedback and learn from each other. While instructor assessments are important, peer feedback gives students a different perspective. Using Canvas, instructors can specify criteria for peer reviews through a discussion board forum, for example, so the presenter can easily receive feedback from their presentation. Again, all this is done outside of class, giving the instructor more time during class to instruct.
A full class discussion, high-lighting key points, provides an opportunity for students to share their thoughts and for the instructor to check for understanding and assess if the outcomes were met.
Virtual presentations have worked well in my courses, but I am always looking for other technology tools (www.slideshare.net or www.prezi.com for example) that can help students meet the course objectives and beyond. What other websites, tools, or techniques have you used to allow students the chance to present their work and get quality feedback from their peers, without losing quality in-class time?