Listen as our esteemed guest Dr. Malathi Srinivasan (Stanford University) discusses how to make teaching engaging on any virtual platform. We cover how to turn your in person lectures into digestible, entertaining virtual content, while reminding yourself of the reason you are teaching in the first place.
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Dr. Srinivasan recommends doing three things: Prepare, Connect, Engage.
Prepare Self using 4 R’s
Francis Peabody said “the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” Dr Srinivasan adapts this to teaching by thinking of it as, the secret of the care of the learner is caring for the learner. She uses Dan Pratt Five Teaching Methodologies and focuses on Nurturing: Effective teaching assumes that long-term, hard, persistent effort to achieve comes from the heart as much as it does from the head.
Make the same effort (or more) to connect with learners in the virtual setting that you would in person. Show learners that you care.
Typically when teaching in person, the educator can build off learner energy. In the virtual setting, teachers give energy first and can set the tone of the session. Dr Srinivasan encourages us to ask ourselves: What would draw you in as a learner? Is there something in the lecture that makes your learner care? Would I be happy receiving this content?
Try to streamline your session. If possible, go higher on Bloom’s taxonomy– toward synthesis, application, and creativity (Adams 2015). Try to keep learning active instead of passive. Push yourself to lecture less. Think about how can you get the students to share more. Tips below! (Haras 2021)
Multitasking is one of the biggest difficulties for the educator (being aware of your content, chat, learner responses while trying to look at the green dot to maintain eye contact). Practice integrating these streams of information- it’s a different set of sensory inputs than we are used to, but in clinical or hospital practice most of us are adept at channeling these different streams. We can become skilled at this too.
It is harder to read the energy of the classroom, especially if learners keep their cameras off. Tap into learners’ sense of professionalism to focus on the learning and not multitask, especially with active and small group settings.
In Dr Srinivasan’s opinion, teaching in a dual interaction setting (some people remote and some people in person) is almost impossible, in the majority of our current room set-ups. We would need to re-design classrooms to make dual interaction settings equitable. Having a TA available to help with remote breakout rooms is helpful, and educators should advocate for appropriate technology to make these sessions more feasible if expected.
Dr. Srinivasan encourages educators to think about their educational product, recognizing how much effort went into creating the in-person lecture. Doing so can reinvigorate educators, reminding them of their passion and experience that can be used to further inspire others to learn new things. Now, we just have to take the content and make it digestible on a virtual learning platform.
Learning over video is often a higher cognitive load on both learner and educator. A higher cognitive load spent on navigating and interpreting information from the virtual environment can reduce the amount of content learners can process (Hickam 2022).
Be aware of group dynamics, if this is a new group of learners make sure you save time for the team to get to know each other, a few minutes for breakout room transitions and ice breakers. Make sure you have a report out after breakouts.
What is the added value of the technological tool you want to utilize? Will it drive home a teaching point? Are you trying to get the temperature of the class? Using it as a step-off point? Technological tools are not necessary to a great online lecture. Technology can be a nice add, but the learning does not occur through features. The features are just tools. Nothing will be a good substitute for a good story (Said 2021).
There are some unique aspects to teaching online that you can use creatively. Use video clips, encourage learners to search for different things independently, use breakout rooms working on different cases.
Practice makes permanent. Feedback makes perfect.
If you set up a good learning environment and have trusted learners, asking for feedback directly from learners can be helpful. Having a peer educator watch your teaching and give you specific feedback (and then reciprocate!) can be very valuable. Keep an open mind and stay humble.
The Johari Window is a model of awareness and communication by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham (Esposito 1978). We all have blindspots. Feedback allows us to view those blindspots to grow and improve, adapting to the ever changing learning environment.
|Known to Self||Unknown to Self|
|Known to Others||Public||Blind|
|Unknown to Others||Private||Unknown|
Anyone can do this. There is nothing secret about teaching online. Trust that you care about the people you are teaching and the content you are teaching. Prepare, connect, and engage. Practice and get feedback. Spend more time building your community to allow people to come together and feel accountable and professional. Education is fun, carry that joy forward!
Dr Srivinvasan recommends- Stanford’s 6th annual Medical and Bioscience Education Day SIMEC on 5/13/23 to celebrate medical education.
Listeners will appreciate the nuances of the virtual learning environment and how to make remote teaching engaging for learners on various levels.
After listening to this episode listeners will…
Dr Malathi Srinivasan reports no relevant financial disclosures. The Curbsiders report no relevant financial disclosures.
Srinivasan M, Heublein M, Kryzhanovskaya E. “#24 Make Virtual Learning Fun (again?)” The Curbsiders Teach Podcast. https://thecurbsiders.com/teach. April 4, 2023.
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