Teacher training and classroom teaching

I have written a post on To be or not to be in a quest for changes that relates to Tony’s post of my thoughts on managing technology in universities

Should all faculty have compulsory training in teaching as well as research before they can get tenure? I think this is the most sensitive question in any Higher Education Institutions.  Most institutions would have expected some relevant research qualifications and experience in teaching on top of the specialist PhD, but when it comes to teacher training, it could be challenging for both the administrators and the professors involved.

What sort of training would be most appropriate for such instructors or professors? 

Tony writes about What do instructors need to know about teaching with technology 

Any training program is a balance between the minimum that a learner needs to know to operate effectively and the time available for training. A full one year master’s program will obviously cover much more ground than an eight week part-time program. Initial training does not have to be perfect and satisfy all requirements, because I see professional development as a continuous process throughout one’s career. I will concentrate here on what I consider the minimum that an instructor needs to know to teach effectively in post-secondary education (assuming that they already have a good knowledge base in the subject area):

  • epistemology
  • the biological basis of learning
  • learning theories (linked to epistemology)
  • the design of teaching 
  • learning technologies 
  • project work

All programs would be available online, or face-to-face, or in a blended mode. There would be at least one institution in every state or province licensed to offer the program, and the program would be nationally recognised and a condition of employment as an instructor in post-secondary education.

So, would teacher training help instructors and professors in teaching?

If we watch some of the above videos on Youtube or University sites, you would find that videos lectures are still the sole means of “delivering the content”, the traditional “transmission of content knowledge”, the production line approach towards dissemination of knowledge.  Most of such lectures would not require any interaction with or amongst the students, though there might be some questions and discussions happening in other tutorials sessions.  May be that is the limitations of having Open Course Ware that has been designed with the classroom teaching as the teaching media, this time happening over a virtual space or video platform.

“For instance, what was the main goal (in general) for technology in teaching in our 11 case studies? To enhance the quality of classroom teaching. What data do we have that (a) classroom teaching is meeting the learning outcomes desired (b) that the introduction of technology will – or has – improved learning outcomes? We have no data – yet we continue to pour millions of dollars into lecture capture, clickers, multiple screens, projectors, lecture consoles, whiteboards, you name it, without any data whatsoever as to its likely impact on learning outcomes. In fact, we don’t even know what we are spending on technology for teaching as it’s all buried in other budgets.”

There has been many student surveys conducted based on the classroom teaching, and the results always indicated that, yes some teachers are great in explaining concepts with plenty of live examples, but the problems all could relate to a “boring content”, irrelevant topics or a lack of interaction with such traditional “lecturing method”.

What may be an alternative approach to teaching?

So, as a teacher, one could be a filter, a curator, a mentor and a node in the networks (of learners and other instructors or teachers), apart from the role of an expert in the subject discipline. 

It’s not the content that would add value to the teaching process, as one could always find better contents available in some of best university OPEN COURSE WARE sites – filled with videos, podcasts, and artifacts (articles, research papers and slides etc.) 

To teach or not to teach? That may be a crucial question for any teachers in Higher Education.

It is the “teaching and learning” or facilitation process that would enhance teaching, which would in turn inspire the learners in their way finding and sense-making, with self-directed learning as part of their learning goals in their quest for life-long learning.

  1. What do you think would be the important ingredients in teacher training in Higher Education?
  2. What is your view on online classroom teaching?
  3. How would technology enhance teaching and learning in Higher Education?

Thanks Tony for his insights into teaching and technology

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