This is a designed learning activity that involves a facilitated interactive discussion between the main speaker (a visiting geography teacher) and 12th-grade geography students.
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- The objective is to have a live discussion supported by online back-channeling, the visiting teacher will facilitate. The topic of discussion is on the student perception of the fundamentals of human geography. The outcome is to motivate and mentor on career choice for those interested to pursue human geography professions. Those absent from the classroom can participate.
- Strengths of using the method include influence on attitude and knowledge; the learning experience is stimulating and interesting for participants; active participation provokes critical thinking and solution development.
- Requirements when using the discussion instructional method include prior knowledge and skills on the part of the facilitator, and students should be equipped with basic knowledge.
- No single instructional method is ideal for any situation but based on the criteria tabulated by Newby et al. (2011, p.116), the discussion instructional method is weak on three (criteria) out of 23.
- In this case, Twitter has been chosen for integration with the instructional discussion method. Twitter has the capabilities to support real-time online conversation in conjunction with the live spoken presentation. An assistant may be needed to manage back-channeling during the discussion session. Students can seek clarification or add their perspectives in due course. Links from the internet could be shared for learning purposes. Discussion can be extended out-of-class afterward.
- Constructive statements focus on the topic at hand, and the character limit poses a challenge for the integration of Twitter.
This learning activity involves a visiting teacher (a geographer by profession) facilitating an interactive discussion with the 12th grade (senior) geography students on the student perception of the fundamentals of human geography. The interactive discussion intends to be a motivational session and career mentorship for students with an interest in pursuing human geography professions. Through live discussion supported by online back-channeling, the visiting teacher will facilitate the interactive session. Responses should be pertinent to the immediate subject of discussion. Those physically absent from the classroom are also encouraged to participate.
Newby et al. (2011, p.114) explain that discussion as an instructional method is preferable when intending to impact attitude and knowledge level. Moreover, students are engaged in critical thinking and solution development through active participation; it provides a stimulating and interesting experience for both the main speaker and audience and brings to life the diversity of students’ backgrounds and experiences. Nevertheless, prior preparation for the session is a requisite, especially for the main speaker, on the skills and knowledge required during the student learning session. At least, students should have basic knowledge or experience on the subject matter to ease understanding since some contents of the discussion may prove technical for starters or individuals new to the field. This is essential because the facilitator of the discussion session may, at some points, anticipate meaningful contribution or participation from the audience (Newby et al., 2011, p.114).
Based on the evaluation table provided by Newby et al. (2011, p.116) discussion method appears to meet all selection criteria (except 1, 6, and 15 out of 23) provided for designing and implementing instructional teaching sessions. The exempted criteria affirm the Newby et al. (2011, p.116) argument that no single method is ideal for any instructional situation. Notwithstanding, an appropriate choice must be made, and combinations are allowed (Newby et al., 2011, p.116).
Dawley (2009) extensively addresses the paradigm-shift brought about by the use of social media tools to enhance instructional learning. Twitter is a social media tool that supports a real-time online conversation in-conjunction with the live spoken presentation (Hundey, 2012, p.1). It is likely that students have prior experience of internet use and short-message-service thus can operate their own Twitter-Accounts. This technology allows students to actively participate in real-time during the learning session. An assistant can help with the backchannel process. Students add their perspectives in due course of learning. The speaker may check Twitter responses after a given interval in order to provide timely comments that will encourage this teaching technique. Links (from the World-Wide-Web) provided during the discussion can enhance learning for the whole class (Hundey, 2012, p.2).
Participants can seek immediate feedback like, what did you imply by that? Those physically absent can still participate. Audiences tend to be alert throughout the session. Since the visiting teacher is temporarily stationed at the institution, the students can maintain personal contact (or following) long after his/her departure through Twitter. In other words, discussions can be extended outside the class. Twitter enhances the personal convenience to continue with the discussion, especially considering that cell phones and other mobile devices can provide the service (Hundey, 2012, p.2). There are limitations to the use of Twitter-like, ensuring students remain focused on the topic at hand. Such may restrict room for vertical-thinking. Other challenges are 140-character space that limits detailed remarking or expression; the need for a prior arrangement for access, and on complex matters, constructive statements (professional etiquette) are difficult.
Dawley, L. (2009). Social network knowledge construction: emerging virtual world pedagogy. On The Horizon, 17(2), 109-121. Web.
Hundey, E. (2012). Social media as an Educational Tool in University Level Geography. Teaching Innovation Projects, 2(1), 1-9. Web.
Newby, T. J., Stepich, D. A., Lehman, J. D., Russell, J. D., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. (2011). Educational technology for teaching and learning. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.