Skillagents: The Lecture Mindset

The lecture mindset is an extension of the ideas presented in the content-centered courses module in Skillagents. As the previous post mentioned lecture based courses homogenize learners, and create passive learning environments which can reduce learner motivation and engagement. It also restricts flexibility for both the educator and learner, in terms of missed classes or other unexpected events. Finally, it presents the danger of creating knowledge gaps because the synchronous or face-to-face time spent with learners is filled primarily with lecture material, and reduces learners opportunities to question what they are learning or for the instructor to explore “teachable moments”.

The solution, lies in blended learning, or the flipped classroom, something that I have explored in recent posts. This approach frees both the learners and the educator to be more exploratory in the learning process, but places more responsibility on each party as well. The educator acts as a curator of beneficial educational resources, needs to provide more individualized mentoring to students, and have confidence responding to problems with the technology necessary for blended learning solutions. The learner too must act more autonomously, completing the necessary requirements before entering the class, and participating actively and appropriately in the online space of the course.

One way to ensure that these roles are being achieved throughout the course is through regular self and course evaluation by all parties. These assessments can have many functions. Simple pre-assessments can used to determine learners’ expectations for the course and their familiarity with the content. Weekly “check-ins” are not only a great way to learn how learners are responding to the course, but also as a means of informal summative assessment to gauge learners’ understanding and usage of the content provided.

There are three important aspects of these evaluations that need to be remembered. First is that these assessments should be in the form of short open-ended questions that encourage learners to share their individualized and honest responses to the course. Second, the responses should be categorized into changes that can be put into place immediately, in the next module, or the next iteration of the course. Finally, results should be shared with class to demonstrate that their perceptions of the course are valued, and to nurture a dialogue about the learning process.

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