Bill Beattie, American manager and coach (Van Cantfort, 2012).
Education is of vital importance to our society. Our education system, workforce, and government need teachers and instructors in all capacities. Developing informed citizens as well as capable thinkers in our society is imperative, and as an educator, I plan on continuing that mission.
Teaching skills needed for their future occupation and providing feedback to students is what will contribute to the growth of our communities, culture, and nation. Whenever I am faced with teaching a course or workshop, I use backwards design to ensure that the students’ alpha need is met. In other words, I write out the final objective of the course on a piece of paper or note card. Then, I map out the different goals students need to meet in order to reach this objective. I also include goals that students already know how to accomplish within the hierarchy map and then eliminate them from the course. After that, I develop activities and projects that students will have to complete in order to accomplish these goals.
An example of this is when I helped design a course with Dr. Peter Leong two years ago called ETEC 648D: Computer Authoring – Virtual Reality. First, I thought about what the students needed to learn regarding this topic that would eventually help them with their current occupations as educators. The terminal objective that I came up with was to have them to able to integrate virtual worlds activities into their courses that were not possible to recreate in real life. Then, I created an instructional hierarchy with objectives and goals the students needed to accomplish in order to achieve this objective. The final project I created was for students in groups to teach one class session, conduct a workshop, or organize an educational event online within the virtual environment of Second Life. Activities during the class included visiting simulations created by higher education institutions and educational organizations, attending an online virtual presentation and discussion activities, and participating in other educational events such as a role play activities or a musical performance online. Ultimately, Dr. Leong had the final say in regards to the class design and made a few adjustments to the ideas I incorporated. However, my contributions to the course helped ensure that students fully understood the concept of pedagogy within online multi-user virtual environments.
As for my courses, the students in my courses repeat the activities assigned to them more than once in class to ensure that they are able to practice the skills the activities are teaching them. Additionally, I create a routine for them so students are not confused about where to find information about the course or how to contact me. In other words, I try to keep the schedule within my courses consistent. I clearly state objectives and what is expected of students at the beginning of the course. By and large, I believe the syllabus is an agreement between student and teacher on what needs to be accomplished in the course.
Although I am in favor of structured courses, I also like to introduce variety within my courses. These include incorporating different types of media, methods, and viewpoints during the class. In general, the activities that I include in my courses are those that involve a variety of activities that appeal to multiple learning styles and take into consideration universal design. I use the theoretical approach of Andragogy when designing activities for the course, such as allowing students to choose from a variety of topics when asked to complete their final project for the course. This matches with another characteristic of Jesuit pedagogy: “study for the humanities and sciences no matter what specializations may be offered” (Traub, SJ, 2008).
By the end of the course, I want my students to create product they can replicate after they graduate and that they can use when entering the workforce. In addition, I ask for feedback from students at the end of the course to discover how I can make the course better for the next group of students who plan to take the course. In the end, courses are really about the teaching element of education. Showing enthusiasm, excitement, passion for the topic is what students remember after a taking a course. This matches with one of the main traits of Jesuit education: a passion for quality (Traub, SJ, 2008).
Students also like challenging curriculum. I enjoy passing on my experiences as an educator with my fellow students as well share stories of other instructors who have taught adults. My approach within the class is student-centered, which is similar to another Jesuit education characteristic that emphasizes curriculum as being person-centered (Traub, SJ, 2008). Although I enjoy some lecturing and sharing from my experience, what I especially enjoy passing on is practical tips with real-world application that the students can use and allowing them to practice these tips through activities and assignments.
I want my students to be creative and have fun with assignments. I also want them to engage mostly in hands-on, in-class activities, where I can provide immediate feedback. As I stated earlier, I believe in spending more than one class session on a particular topic, so students have time to absorb the concepts and skills presented to them. I believe the more time students spends practicing a particular skill or learning about a particular topic, the more likely that skill or piece of information will stay in their long-term memory.
What I like to avoid in my classes is passive teaching. In other words, I avoid assigning my students busy work, too many readings, and pointless discussion activities. I like having active students in my class. I also avoid coddling students and not presenting them with challenges. I avoid being argumentative, drool, or boring. In other words, I highly dislike it when instructors do not take consideration their students' needs when assigning work.
Of all the classes and workshops I have taught, I have received lots of positive feedback regarding my teaching style and assigned activities. Many of my students like my style of delivery and creative assignments. They also commented on my enthusiasm for the topics I teach as well as my willingness to take time out of my schedule to help them individually.
The students I have taught have also been involved in several different research projects. This includes them being participants within the different studies I have conducted. After participating in my research, quite a few of these students have then created class projects that they have presented at various conferences. One of my students created an online 3D virtual simulation that others could visit online that immersed others within the various stories of Hawaiian mythology. He later presented it at the AECT international conference in Florida last year.
As for my personal research style, I prefer qualitative research over quantitative. Although I am not adverse to quantitative or mixed method studies, I believe that people and information cannot easily fit into categories that researchers set up for themselves, such as in quantitative research. Rather I believe that information and patterns within research are fluid and multi-faceted. Although qualitative research is not as easily measured as quantitative, it still allows undiscovered correlations to form naturally through the data gathering and data analysis process of research. Whichever style my students prefer to use, I would be more than eager to help them and help inform them of the pros and cons of that particular research style.
As for me, I completed my PhD. in Education in the Summer 2012 with a specialization in Educational Technology. I hope that the knowledge I gain during my educational journey of pursuing a PhD. will enable me to advance the field of Adult Education and Training as well as Instructional Design. In my opinion, Instructional Design is not only the integration of technology into a specific curriculum. Instructional Design is the means with which ideas are transferred to one another, transcending the boundaries of language, race, and location. While also learning about these characteristics that make us so unique, we, through Instructional Design, have the ability to learn from others as well as one another and gain a broader worldview.
I do not believe that technology is the answer to my students' learning needs. Rather, I believe that it is a tool through which learning the subject matter is facilitated. In other words, I feel that learning the curriculum is more important than learning how to use the technology provided. However, I also believe that by using different types of computer technology within the workplace such as spreadsheets, PowerPoint, e-mail, IRCs, WYSIWIG editors, and discussion boards while learning the assigned material, my students' will be better prepared to function in a global environment.
In closing, I will continue my journey in growing as an educator. Overall, academics and educators alike should encourage their students to succeed no matter what goals they want to pursue. Through understanding learner diversity, educators can guide their students through the complex world of today and help them become life-long learners.
Traub, SJ, G. W. (2008). A Jesuit Education Reader. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press.
Van Cantfort, T. E. (2012, April 25). Food for Thought. Fayetteville State University. Retrieved November 26, 2012, from http://faculty.uncfsu.edu/tvancantfort/Web%20Pages/Food%20for%20Thought.htm