My mentor, Dr. Lynne Markus, wrote a very important article (Culnan & Markus, 1987 and while that is not the direct link to it b/c it’s a handbook article, the article I do link to is a follow-up that is similar). ANYHOOOOO, the gist of Culnan & Markus is stop trying to make computer technologies replicate FtF communication. Computer communication can do things FtF can’t. Find those communication differences and use them to your advantage.
I have to honestly admit that during the pandemic, it’s my normal, initial tendency to replicate online what I’m missing FtF. But then I take a breath, remember Lynne’s research, and start trying to think differently. We did this for the INGRoup 2020 virtual conference and it’s been a great experience. Some folks say it’s the best virtual conference they’ve attended this year. (They could be exaggerating but I don’t care. I am having a blast with it) Honestly, we (at INGRoup) surveyed our members, asked what they liked most about our past conferences, and did our best to replicate exactly that in our first virtual one. (What did they like, you ask? Our conference is know for being very friendly and having lots and lots of informal, interdisciplinary conversations about our research on groups that leads to new ways of thinking and researching)
And I’ve tried to do this for my online grad class this semester. This class is an intro into our grad program and an overview of I/O Psychology. I must admit I had just finished grading the last year’s comprehensive exams, I had “Ideaz” on what I wanted our students to do. And I didn’t want this fall’s zoom classes to be the shitshow of what I did over the spring.
I’M GETTING TO THE PODCASTS! HOLD YOUR HORSES!!
What I’m doing differently:
- If I plan on doing any sort of lecture, I prerecord it in 10 minute (or so) chunks. They watch it before class. There’s no need to waste precious interactive time with me droning on. That said, however long my recorded lectures are, we cut that time out of our regular class.
- We use padlets for discussions and sharing info. It’s so much more visual and interesting to read
- All interactions are in gallery view on Zoom with their videos and often mics on. This has been AMAZING for discussions. We are all “equal.” I am no longer standing or sitting apart from them. We are all together at the same level of power and it’s awesome. We have had some of the best grad discussions I can recall.
- I strongly encourage that they use chat during the lecture both to everyone and privately. Our chat discussions are how some of my students make their best contributions.
- I use google docs for them to turn in in-class assignments. I’ve made a drive for the whole class and each week’s in-class assignments has its own doc for each randomly assigned groups.
- And PODCASTS!!!
Each week, one or two students does a deep dive into a topic. In the past, I’ve had students do Formal Presentations for this part of the exercise. At best, they’ve been ok and at worst they’ve sucked. During a discussion with my dept peers, someone mentioned Fishbowl discussions. Two students face each other and have a discussion while the rest of the class watches.
And I immediately remembered all my favorite podcasts: You’re Wrong About, My Favorite Murder (Holla to the Murderinos!), and Hidden Brain among others. In all of these podcasts (well, not so much Hidden Brain, but I love it), one host has taken a deep dive into a topic and then explains it to the other host, who reacts to the info and shares his/her own experiences. It’s so interesting to listen to!
So that’s what my students are doing. They started with a lit search on their topic at the beginning of the semester (graded) where I reviewed what they found and had strong ideas on which ones would be good to use. (recent, good journals, of high manager/science interest). They read these articles and summarize the topic generally and the article particularly in a discussion to the class. The “hosts” pin their screens to each other so they only see each other and discuss the topic. The rest of the class leaves our screens in gallery and sometimes provide questions in the chat “Anita from Charlotte NC wonders…..”
They DISCUSS. TALK, SHARE. Not Present. IT’S SO MUCH BETTER and SO much more INTERESTING. As my students have commented, “This is like a real podcast!!” And we voluntarily listen to podcasts, right? It’s awesome.
I am having a blast with the discussions and while it is very stressful for the students, dadgum, I feel like it’s so much better than a formal presentation. I feel like this translates more into a coffee chat with their manager about important I/O topics than standing in front of them and Telling What They Know. It’s just better communication sharing altogether.
I would honestly love to hear what is working with you right now on Zoom or online teaching in any method. Just remember: what can online communication do that FtF cannot. And DO THAT.
And here’s a picture of my lab in our last zoom for the photo tax. Isn’t my lab cute?