Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NISOD 2008 - Humor And Multimedia as Teaching Tools For The Net Generation...

This session was presented by Dr. Ronald Berk, professor Emeritus at John Hopkins University. A statistician by trade, Ron has published several books on using humour to teach, including "Professors Are From Mars, Students Are From Snickers".

In this informative, entertaining, funny, and transformative presentation, Dr. Berk presented an approach to using humour and multimedia to reach our current millennial students. he began by talking about the parts of the act of teaching;
  • Content (the what)
  • Pedagogy (the how)
Further breaking pedagogy down:
  • Learner-Centered Teaching (over 1000+ articles 119 studies)
  • Technology - online, offline, inline, and outtaline
We looked at the characteristics of the Net Gen digital native learners, the fact that they are visually oriented, that there is a need to address multiple intelligences and learning styles, and that the use of humour can go along way to reaching students. Include humour in your tests, take a "commercial break" when things are lagging and eyes are glazing over, use humour, demonstrations and even role plays to introduce complex or confusing topics, and connect with your learners.

His entire presentation was full of sound clips, vidoes and other cultural references that the audience and his students would get - an amazing use of technology and tools to use humour to break down barriers, present difficult topics and most importantly reach millennial learners with language and symbols that the understand.

One of his key pieces of advice (and there were many) was this - if you want to identify what is in your students' world - ASK them, conduct a survey - great, simple advice. as he put it "We are working together in the room".

Perhaps his best quote of the presentation, and one that encapsulates something that I have believed for a long time is this:

"PowerPoint by itself is a bunch of dead words on a screen"

Add sound, video, interactivity - bring life to your PowerPoint - great stuff.

there is no doubt that this approach to teaching, which I believe works is time consuming - the depth and richness of Dr. Berk's presentation must have taken hours to prepare. I think that the end result was well worth it though - a jam-packed room full of engaged learners.

This was an amazing presentation, perhaps the highlight of NISOD 2008 for me so far - best way that I can sum it up is to say that I wish I had been one of Ron Berk's students and I am so glad that for a very short two hours I was...

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