By Amy Erickson
I love the premise behind open education, but hadn’t thought about using open resources in a way that could enhance my classroom. In the past, I’ve directed interested students to watch online videos of Yale professors discussing the novel, and professors from the Harvard School of Medicine talking about metabolic syndrome. But could I do more?
In the September 2016 issue of Online Classroom, Dr. John Orlando interviews Curt Bonk in his article “Tips from the Pros: Curt Bonk Talks about Open Education.” This was a wonderful reminder about how to use open resources creatively to engage students in ways that connect them to course content.
Go Beyond Textbook Learning
On the website tec-variety.com, Bonk and Khoo (2016) recommend using students’ personal devices in the classroom. This may seem counter-intuitive to residential instructors who fear that using these technologies will only encourage students to shop, update their Facebook status, or play Words with Friends during class. But we can creatively use these devices to steer learning in a new way, instead of simply recommending material from Khan Academy, TED, or various podcasts.
If you’re interested, download Bonk’s and Khoo’s free book to get started. I was immediately drawn to many suggestions, such as providing video introductions, conducting role playing activities, and using the jigsaw method with online content. Altogether, this book offers 100 activities that you can use to motivate and retain learners online.
Break Down Classroom Walls
Online and residential classrooms shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. When they do, it can be a challenge to motivate students or help them see how course material is related to the world around them.
In “Tips from the Pros,” Dr. Orlando (2016) shares a wonderful idea for breaking down the walls that surrounded his medical ethics course. He felt that having students interview recent graduates on work-related ethical issues would provide them with more meaningful insights, help prepare them for the workplace, and foster mentorship. I think this is a brilliant win-win situation. Could you do something similar in your own classroom?
As part of a local university’s service-learning project, first year composition students interviewed and wrote biographies of residents at a local nursing home. Students then created bound books for residents and their families, and created iMovie presentations for classmates sharing what they had learned throughout the semester. Nobody slept through this class.
Are there ways you can engage your students with technology they already use?
In my experience, students appreciate it when authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Sherman Alexie, and Steve Rushin post on Twitter. For example, Oates has shared thoughts about university trigger warnings; Sherman Alexie has challenged the use of Native American symbols as college mascots; and Steve Rushin tweeted that synchronized swimmers would have had their story straight, unlike Ryan Lochte.
Any of these topics could generate discussion and create valuable interaction in the virtual or residential classroom. Perhaps experts in your field are writing white papers or sharing videos through social media. Have students follow an author’s blog or poet’s Twitter feed to stimulate interesting conversations that are relevant to students’ regular online activity.
Do you have innovative ideas of your own? Have you tried some of the recommendations from the book Adding Some TEC-VARIETY? What worked? What didn’t? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
Orlando, J. (2016, September). Tips from the pros: Curt Bonk talks about open education. Online Classroom. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from http://www.magnapubs.com/newsletter/online-classroom/?ET=magnapubs:e2013:1156877a:&st=email