Teaching Excellence and Panopto, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part blog post.

As a native English speaker, how do you overcome the language barrier in a place like Colombia?

In places where English is not the native language, if we can perfect our technique and coordinate a seamless recording of the experience for them to revisit or slow down audio—in order to pick up a nuance they might’ve missed—that’s really helpful in terms of the learning process. Most people simply can’t hear a new concept once and pick it up immediately. That’s where Panopto comes in and closes the learning gap.

How’d the workshop turn out?

It was energizing! I’m very happy with this inaugural launch. This was hands down one of the best faculties I’ve ever worked with. They were motivated, sophisticated, and enthusiastic. In one particular exercise, we had a professor tossing pieces of paper into the trashcan. We had him blindfolded in front of the class. At first, audience members couldn’t say anything at all; naturally, his aim got progressively worse. Subjective compliments (“good job!”) and criticisms (“that was terrible”) didn’t help, either, as we can see in the video recording. What benefitted him the most – and what this exercise demonstrated – was that offering specific feedback (“a little to the left” or “throw it more gently this time”) is the most effective method when seeking improvement of any kind.

You’re heading back to Colombia this fall for a second round…

Yes! We will use Panopto when we return to Uniminuto in October, which will be another weeklong workshop, but focused as a T3 or train-the-trainer environment. In our initial sessions, we introduced and explored the core content. This next time, our focus will be on how to deliver the core content to someone else. We’ll use Panopto recordings as a training tool and as a point of discussion for the professors, who will then train their colleagues We want them to pay close attention to everything – noticing what they said, how they moved, how they engaged and interacted with their audience, how their audience responded – and to ask themselves why they made certain decisions with regard to their teaching. This isn’t a unique scenario for Colombia, though; Panopto will play an increasingly important role in supporting our faculty development efforts around the world.

What do you like best about these workshops?

What I find most rewarding is the personal connection we make with teachers. At the end of this workshop, one professor spoke to us about what he learned. This is a guy who is intimately connected to knowledge in his own field, and admitted to having what we call an ‘expert blindspot’ – difficulty distilling the complex concepts and tasks in his field into the components that are necessary for students to learn. He experienced a total paradigm shift during our week together. I’m blown away by this kind of feedback.

Published: September 18, 2012