Seeking to Reach Them (Pt. 1)
Ever think something like, “I sure wish this course had something like…”? Is some connection between God’s Word and your content “burning like fire in your bones” (see Jer. 20)? Well, keep that thought; things are about to get easier for you to make it happen.
You likely remember the 4CQ Faculty Model, right? For now, I want to highlight an often overlooked characteristic: Personalized Classroom. You find it located within the quality of Connection. A further breakdown in the 4CQ Model explains a quality faculty member: “Works to go beyond the basic shell of the course to make it their own, suited to their passions, interests, expertise, and teaching skills.” As you already know, connection between student and teacher, and student and content are crucial. And, I know you have a desire to connect meaningfully with your students and to deliver the content they need in a personal way: a way that fits with your personality. I encourage you seek developing these desires as well as the skills and tools fostering these occurring. I’ll offer a place to start a bit later.
Desiring to Teach Well is Godlike
Why all this? I would offer these desires are a manifestation of the imago dei in you. God yearns to reveal Himself in His personality and connect with each person in a meaningful way. And, it’s no surprise to me that teachers share this yearning with God. Why? Education is a major facet of the Christian experience. The Holy Spirit teaches us all things and guides us in the truth (John 14:26; 16:13, etc.). Parents and grandparents are to teach and train their children and grandchildren (Deut. 6:4-9; 4:9; Ps 78:1-4; etc.). Christians are to teach and admonish one another (Eph. 5:19; 2Tim. 2:2, 4:2; etc.). As believers, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23, etc.). And, teaching is a major component of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:20, etc.).
Jesus modeled multiple teaching methods from parables to critical-thinking questions to spring boarding off present events. Prophets were given visions, performed sign-acts, wrote poetry, and more. We have a very creative God as our Master Teacher. Again, I encourage you to begin musing further upon what you would like to add/how you would like to personalize your course. With our transition to Brightspace (replacing Blackboard) those additions and personal touches will be smoother than ever. Audio/video integration can be done in different ways, including recording right in Brightspace itself. And, you can direct student to a webpage that will open within in a window in Brightspace, so they never have to leave the LMS –less distractions that way. There will be more details and trainings in the future, this is just to let you know to let those creative juices and your sanctified imaginations loose.
Where to Start?
If you have a direction, great! If not, I offer an easy place to start –though it may not seem so when I first mention it (but it really is, and there is very little pressure to “get it perfect”). I would offer that you begin with instructor videos. Breathe 😉 Studies have shown that even videos not done well have a significant positive impact for students. Videos can be done right in Brightspace or inserted from the likes of YouTube, Vimeo, etc., or from your computer/device. Videos can be in regards to policies, assignment feedback, announcements, lecture supplements, special “shout-outs” to those doing stellar work, weekly introductions to the coming material, etc. Again, you don’t have to look TV-ready or have it all perfect –though I recommend having at least an outline to follow, if not a transcript (and transcripts can be loaded for students needing or wanting one).
Inserting a personal presence into your courses help humanize the instruction, give a voice to the text they read, and enhance understanding of your comments and feedback since students have witnessed your intonations, body language as you speak, and some idiosyncrasies of your communication style. And, students appreciate the ability to replay videos to review the content of the message as needed. Here is a blog highlighting effects of instructor videos. Here is the report mentioned in the blog.
So, with our move to Brightspace, incorporating into your course what’s burning in your heart should be easier than ever. As we transition, be honing your ideas; we’ll work toward bringing them to life for you, for your students, for God’s work in and through you. And, some little videos are a great place to start. Have fun out there!