Shortly after the transition to online learning during the pandemic, faculty began talking about the return to the classroom. The pandemic encouraged many to explore their pedagogy as they moved their classes to an online environment. Those faculty used multiple strategies to engage their students. Some faculty brought props home from school to display in synchronous online classes via Zoom Others used online blackboards and polling to engage students. In the spirit of sound pedagogy, faculty collected data on student progress, including grades, student evaluations, standardized exams, retention, and graduation rates.
Unfortunately, those hoping for a quick end to remote teaching continued to teach as if they were in a classroom using long, boring PowerPoint presentations on Zoom that required little or no student engagement. These faculty were fond of complaining about students’ lack of attention in their online classes. They may have insisted that students turn their cameras on to be monitored for sleeping or walking away from the computer.
Most would agree that a boring presentation is boring no matter the medium. Beginning the class by telling students that you have a 200-slide PowerPoint presentation to get through is the equivalent of giving students a tranquilizer. Although some students will frantically try to keep up with a frantic pace of PowerPoints, most will eventually tune out and ask for a study guide for the exam. Sound familiar?
The cure for boring, content-heavy PowerPoint presentations is a class carefully planned around important concepts and pedagogy. Unfortunately, it takes time to plan and design an engaging learning environment. The good news is that faculty do not need to change an entire class. Instead, break classes down into concepts and start with one concept that lends itself well to an active learning activity. Then each time the course is taught, more active learning concepts can be added until the course is lively and engaging, resulting in deep learning.
Start with one class. Start with one concept.
Every journey begins with the first step.