When I taught my first online class, I knew that I had to be even more intentional about facilitating student interaction with (1) the course materials, (2) the other students, and (3) myself as the professor. I wanted to make sure my students were not only understanding but also thinking critically about the assigned readings. However, instead of thinking of more creative ways to hold students accountable for this, I gave very simple multiple-choice reading quizzes. While this is not necessarily bad practice, it was not active, interactive, or critical at all. I then started requiring students to use the discussion board to discuss the readings. But when thoughtful, analytical discussions didn’t always spring up naturally, I began to create discussion questions for them – directing them to answer the types of analytical questions they should be learning to ask on their own instead of actually helping them build that skill. Learning how to ask interrogating and analytical questions is learning to be a critical thinker.
Here are 10 quick tips for creating more interactive (and thus more effective) mini-lecture videos. A few of the tips utilize the specific tools in the Janux platform, but most of them can be applied to any lecture– live or on video.
My article “Puzzling It Out: Teaching Marketable Skills in History Courses with the Jigsaw Technique” appeared in the November issue of Perspectives on History, the flagship publication of the American Historical Association for commentary on teaching, computers and software, and history in the media. The article describes specific examples of using the “jigsaw” — a small-group learning technique — to scaffold students’ experience naming and practicing the critical thinking skills the humanities so often claim to teach. Thinking about both content and skills in humanities courses can help us not only appreciate the beauty of human culture, but also improve the skills that are necessary for work outside the academy.