Author: Kristin Olofsson, Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University
How can we make the most of the rapid-moving nature information in today’s society? Information is no longer delivered in daily consumables on a 24-hour basis. The internet is constantly updating its information.
Instead of complaining about the decline of the news cycle we can use these changes to grab our students’ attention and incorporate new information in an informal, approachable manner.
What happens when you come across new information?
Use what you already know to create new information. We are experts for our students as teachers. We are the lens that allows them to process information.
My tip? Share your reaction to an event with your students. It’s like “water cooler talk.” You might ask a colleague “Did …?” Comment on what made this information or event memorable.” Tell your students.
Intentionally make short, informal reactions videos or blog posts about the current event. They should relate it to what they are learning. As their expert, your take on current events brings them into the classroom in a way that appeals to users of new media.
This can be very powerful, especially in an online learning environment. Online learning is a better option, as it’s how younger students consume information. It makes you feel human and adds relevance to your studies. This can be difficult for students who may feel disconnected in an online classroom.
As a political scientist, there is plenty of material for me to choose from. But I also look for unexpected things, such as Nobel prize announcements and book or movie releases. It might be something that interests you or your students.
Tip 1: Don’t listen to a mini lecture.
Do not spend too much time on content preparation. This is your opportunity to be the expert and respond to any event. Bonus points if you integrate course content. Make sure that the subject matter is relevant to the overall course. The course should not exceed a few minutes in length.
Tip 2: Be informal
This is the informal, casual conversation you would have with students just before class.
Tip 3 – Don’t force someone to do something or pretend you’re someone else.
It doesn’t matter if you want to TikTok or if you don’t feel comfortable doing it. You don’t have the obligation to dance if you don’t want to.
You are their teacher. Recognize the power of showing students that you care about them and prioritizing their learning.
Tip 4 – It doesn’t need to be frequent, but it must be timely.
If you don’t post a response every Tuesday, it isn’t because you aren’t reacting. Although you might be able to post a response the first few times, posting on a regular basis implies that you are searching. It also takes away some of the excitement that comes with what you do.
Students are more likely to notice a post that is unexpected. Make sure you record a video when the news is still relevant. You can’t react on Friday to Monday’s news in order to grab attention. We’ve moved beyond that.
Tip 5: Reward participation.
Consider offering a small amount of extra credit to reward those who watch the entire video, if it is within your teaching pedagogy.
Many online learning management systems allow you to embed a quiz at end of video. This is a very simple way to get (extra credit) participation points.
An extra credit question could be added to an exam on the video. This rewards students who watch your content. After that, I guarantee your views will increase. It’s not necessary to announce it. See tips for keeping it unexpected.
Students will notice if there is extra credit. You don’t need to offer extra credit every single time.
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