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Educate-it at REBO

Small adjustment, large effect

At Educate-it, we like to share the successes that have been achieved by using IT tools within the teaching activities. We often make use of the stories by lecturers who innovatively used various tools. We now like to look at this from another perspective: small, but special! Willem Janssen (Law) and Sjors Overman (USG) are happy to share their recommendations: how can you achieve a large effect by a minor adjustment?  

Willem’s recommendations:

  • Be available in the Teams lecture some 15 minutes in advance for a chat! I noticed that I had become very business-like and only joined in about one minute before the actual lecture. Now I have started joining in earlier, the contact with my students outside of the course material has intensified, and – hopefully – the sense of community will increase too. This again contributes to improved discussions about the course material as it helps when you have got some idea of how your students are doing.
  • Keep emphasizing the importance of turning the camera on; do not give up on this!  Keep explaining how it improves the online debate. Lectures without seeing actual faces are not just boring to the teacher but you may also ask your students whether they would not rather be able to see each other too?
  • Start the lecture with a very short Mentimeter quiz about the ‘easier’ parts of the week or record a reflection on the previous weeks. This will immediately activate your students and give space for their own reflections: ‘Okay, this is going well’ or ‘Well, I need to spend some more time on this’. Moreover, the element of competition allows for tangible communication about something other than the actual course material.

Sjors adds the following suggestions:

  • As a lecturer, ensure that you are visible in your knowledge videos and that you present your story with a smile. In a knowledge clip, just like on the telephone, you can hear the difference.
  • Formulate questions for your students that make them focus when they watch the knowledge clips (obviously this technique is also effective during regular lectures or the processing of literature).
  • Interview each other or start a conversation with a fellow teacher and record this as a podcast. I was told that this predominantly works with senior students and less so with first-year students.
  • Use the break-out rooms as much as possible in order to force your students to provide input.  
  • Keep asking your students to do or make things: mind maps, notes, answers to questions, pitches. Students often do not mind producing work prior to or during meetings when they know the feedback will be more general rather than personal.
  • Discuss your lectures withyour students. What are they positive about, what do they think is effective and what is not. Make adjustments on the fly.