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12 October: Micro-teaching–bullying and the Olympics

12 October 2010

Many thanks to Jackie P (Bullying–taking action together) and Alex (Super-Duper Leadership and Volunteering Lesson) for their contributions. Both of them were inventive and interactive and stimulating (and hard to close down, like last week), and raised some interesting points.

Jackie thought hard about whether or not to use PowerPoint(tm), and decided not to. I think that gave her much more freedom to engage with her class as people, and as we discussed about the recurring “Announcing the objectives” issue, the session was not about learning about bullying, as raising awareness of it. As Paul H put it well, it was an internal objective rather than an external one.

But she did have a presentation ready, and distributed the handouts.

  • For a general, practical (and very out-of-date) page go here (I am reminded that the page is in serious need of up-dating, and some of this post may be the beginnings of that.)
  • For a more philosophical take on the impact of technology not only on teaching but also on understanding, see here.
  • For Edward Tufte’s great “PowerPoint is Evil” rant go here.

But more specifically (and I hope Jackie will forgive me for using her [not used] presentation as the basis of a critique)…

  • Take care with the fonts you use; your header font is attractive but… it is very elaborate and not friendly to dyslexic students.
    • It’s boring but the plainer the better (on the whole)
  • Forget writing joined-up prose. The stuff on the screen is there as a pointer to what you are saying. If you end up reading it out, the tail is wagging the dog.
    • Take a line on an early slide; “Bullying can happen anywhere people come together.” We know the subject is bullying because it is in the heading, so what do you need to get it over? Anywhere with people.
    • Or just anywhere
    • Less is more.

    The visuals and your spoken word are competing with each other for the students’ attention. The more effort people put into reading the more distracted they are from listening. But there is a “sweet spot” where the two work together–look for it!

  • So! Less text. Fewer (or no, bullet points)…

Consider (but don’t become a slave to) the 10/20/30 rule. (It’s purely the preference of a hedge-fund manager, and nothing to do with teaching, but it has “gone viral”.)

More on this in the future…

OK–the “learning pyramid”

… and SMART objectives

The fact that I have less to mention in respect of Alex’s session is in no way a reflection on it or his performance.

The main issue we discussed was Alex’s enthusiasm. See here!

We briefly discussed the pace of Alex’s session, too. 90-second interviews? (and he kept to his deadlines very well) It was all rather breathless (perhaps appropriate for the Olympics!) More generally, what kind of response (let alone “learning”) does such an approach engender? Where is it suitable and where not?


Admin. wise:

  • Juliet Fern will be taking the session next week in my absence. She does not have (or probably want) access to this blog, so if there is anything which comes up which could profitably be posted here, please make a note and email me with it.
  • Learning from experience: I now know that the video system generally works, but also that;
    • not all SD cards are equal. The camcorder is HD, so the files are BIG and demanding. The card needs to be at least Class 4 or 15 mb/s to work. Alex’s 2gb card this evening was only able to save his teaching and not the discussion, so at least 4gb is recommended. If necessary, I can lend you one, but obviously it is better to have your own.
  • Do email me with suggestions for the improvement of the observation sheet. Please!

See you in three weeks!

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