In the past two months, a number of workshops were offered on current trends in teaching and learning, including How to Develop Activities that Incorporate the Concept of a Deep Approach to Learning, Personal Autonomy in Learning, Flipping the Classroom, and the Meaning of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) in Education.
Recurring themes of collaboration and feedback, instructor creativity and flexibility, and injecting elements of fun in courses were addressed. Most importantly, faculty from different disciplines had an opportunity to interact with each other about the learning environments they have developed to support their students.
I was fortunate to take part in some of those conversations. It is clear to me that the successful instructors (instructors happy with how students learn in their course) are those who are creative and flexible in their approach to teaching. These instructors have systematically reworked learning activities to meet their learning outcomes. Their students learn through trial and error, receive feedback from their peers and the instructor, and are given an opportunity to improve in subsequent course activities. The learning activity is structured to emphasize the learning process and encourage students to think about the course material rather than focus on their grade. The instructor may not always be centre-stage or initiate the next step in the life of the assignment but guides the learning process nonetheless. These instructors also recognize that soliciting informal and formal student feedback of their learning experience is an important element of maintaining a good learning environment.
The trends in teaching and learning mentioned at the start of this blog will be present for the foreseeable future. Adoption of some of these trends to the classroom and online environment will take creativity and flexibility on the part of instructors. In some cases, it is already being done by faculty on campus. For anyone looking to boost their creativity quotient, you need look no further than what is happening in your department or on campus. I appreciated all of the conversations that took place in the workshops I attended. I encourage you to attend upcoming CTE events and let us know what you are doing in your class.
Johnson, Steven (2010). Where good ideas come from. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NugRZGDbPFU.