How to teach about flowers… or anything else.
I’m currently enrolled in the online course Online Teaching Certificate, which is about (you guessed it) how to teach… online courses. Ironically relevant repetition aside, it’s being superbly useful to me as an instructor with only ~4 years of formal teaching experience under my belt, because it’s serving as a thorough introduction to the principles underlying good teaching and effective course design.
My day consisted of 1-2 hours of grading before a scheduled phone interview this morning, 5 hours of teaching, at least 3 more hours of grading and prepwork for the remaining 1.5 weeks in the summer semester, and then ~2 hours of work for the online course. In the midst of all of this we’re trying to close on a house by the beginning of July. Oh, and I wrote this blog entry. 🙂
The focus of this week’s lesson was course design, with most of the discussion centered around the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning to design, teach, and evaluate successfully. It’s useful for students to think about these concepts as well, as it’s a helpful way to structure your studying.
- The first level of learning is simply to remember the relevant information (e.g. vocabulary words).
- Then, you should be able to understand the information in context and apply it to scenarios (e.g. use it in an example).
- Analysis adds your ability to compare and contrast related topics, and how they are organized so that you can troubleshoot (e.g. look for flaws or connections).
- In truth, evaluation will require an even more thorough explanation of that analysis, with your added judgement and interpretation (e.g. choose the best of several methods).
- Once you’ve those levels under your philosophical belt, you understand a topic well enough that you should be able to effectively create new content (e.g. a study guide).
You should find yourself constantly returning to those earlier levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy to analyze and evaluate your own work!
- Are there errors?
- Does it logically make sense?
- Do you still remember the details?
- Does the new material integrate ideas from each of the various parts of the issue?
- Can you distill the topic to its core elements so that a 5th grader would understand you?
featured image: a giant bee in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, NM (July 2016)