Spring Perspectives on Teaching

Posted on 15 May 2014 Conference, Teaching, E-Learning


Yesterday was Western's "Spring Perspectives on Teaching" conference, organized by the Teaching Support Centre. With the keynote unfortunately cancelled, I was only able to attend one session. "Talking Tech: Perspectives on E-Learning" had three panelists speaking about their experience integrating e-learning into their classrooms.

Some interesting highlights from the presentation:

  • The session began with the audience using clickers to demo how audience response (physical or virtual) can be used to tailor lectures on-the-fly. The majority of the audience weren't familiar with the term "MOOC" -- very surprising in an education & technology session! Also, very important for the instructor to be aware of before continuing on.
  • Speaker Tim Wilson from Anatomy & Cell Biology discussed his flipped/blended teaching method as "minimally invasive". Students don't even realize they're e-learning.
    • Using Bloom's taxonomy, the lower level functions of remembering and understanding are achieved prior to class with online notes. The classroom session is dedicated to a participative discussion where students elaborate on their learning. The classroom is a safe-zone where mistake-making and collaboration is acceptable. Quizzes administered through the LMS are iterative, allowing multiple submissions after a cool-down period for formative learning.
  • Bethany White spoke about a new initiative for post-secondary e-learning, Ontario Online. Western has secured the funding for the creation of two first-year level courses.
  • Suzanne Kearns reviewed some general advice for improving e-learning, while relating it to her field of safety training for non-commercial airline pilots.
    • Incorporate user technology into teaching: Bring your own device (BYOD).
    • Use avatar characters as coaches.
    • Break courses into 5-7 minute sections.
    • Target higher levels of learning such as evaluating and applying knowledge.
    • Conduct online pre-training to bring all students up to a predictable level of knowledge.
    • Aim for adaptive or personalized learning that tailors the experience to an appropriate difficulty level for novice, intermediate, and advanced learners.

Recommended reading: E-Learning and the Science of Instruction / Clark & Mayer (2011)