A Better Way To Teach

I recently received an e-mail from Magna Publications inviting me to join an online seminar about online courses (for $349). It read in part:

“In this new Magna Online Seminar you will learn how to modify your online courses and instructional approach so your students establish stronger connections with course materials and with you. 

Online Learning that Lasts: How to Engage & Retain Students will show you how to: 

  • Identify essential ideas, skills, or course objectives that students need to master, and learn to use proven strategies to ensure that students learn and remember course material
  • Break down online instruction into discrete components to keep students actively engaged throughout instruction
  • Use your students’ questions, issues, and concerns to construct relevance for the course content
  • Incorporate real-world scenarios, examples, and case studies to help students explore new concepts and ideas
  • Use creative discussion, debate, or what-would-you-do techniques to create a student-focused learning environment
  • Develop course outlines and assignments that encourage students to engage with the course at all levels of learning taxonomies
  • Include student-led instruction in which each student teaches a course concept to someone outside the class

You can make changes right away that will generate greater student success.”

Sounds really good! But, I’ll tell you that the Lean Teaching pedagogy offers these same benefits for face-to-face, hybrid, or online courses.

Most professors teach in ways that are based on memories of how their teachers taught them. We must question that. The assumption that teaching was good may have been based on your own strong performance, but I am sure you noticed, as I did, that many (perhaps most) other students struggled. If we question how we were taught, will will recognize that we must unlearn much of what we currently do and learn something new.

The question is, how do you do it?

Lean Teaching is not a simple exhortation or call to action promoting Lean Teaching. It presents a better way to teach. It explicitly describes the teaching method that I developed and have used for the past 15 years. It is perhaps the most detailed account of a teaching method ever written, including results from years of student course evaluations.

The Lean Teaching pedagogy does not insert a new ideas into current ways of teaching. It replaces current (and largely ineffective) ways of teaching. And, importantly, the pedagogy is simple to learn and put into practice, and is extremely effective.

Lean Teaching will help you see the necessity of becoming a fully committed to continuous (daily) improvement and how to do it so that you are energized and even more proud of your work – even if university leaders rank teaching as the third priority behind publications and research grants. Simply integrate Lean Teaching into your daily teaching work, one course at a time and one step at a time.

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Review of Lean Teaching by Professor Gloria McVay:

In this book, Bob Emiliani addresses all of the facets of university teaching and makes both observations (from his own teaching) and recommendations (from his own experiments) for continuous improvement in course content, design, and delivery. If every professor seriously adopted a practice of continuous improvement as recommended in this book, the change to higher education would be nothing short of revolutionary. It takes being willing to really evaluate your teaching practice and realize that any single improvement in and of itself is not major. It is when you make many small improvements, knowing there is no end to improving, that you begin to understand the revolutionary power of lean in higher education. I found many good ideas that I will personally try out in my teaching practice. The big question then is – how do we create an environment which fosters this type of continuous improvement on a large enough scale to achieve a major breakthrough? For some of Bob’s thoughts on this challenging and broad-scoped topic, I recommend We Can Do It! – another excellent book on Lean in higher education.

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