Evolution – Searching for the Wizard of Oz
One of the highlights of my year is participating in the University of Wyoming Evolution conference. This year’s conference was another rewarding event. It began with keynote speaker Dr. Gary Moore. Dr. Moore is a tenured Full Professor of Agriculture and Extension Education at North Carolina State University. Moore gave an animated presentation entitled “Searching for the Wizard of Oz.” The entire presentation was based around the movie Wizard of Oz.
Here are the realizations he shared:
Realization 1 – not in Kansas anymore
Moore drove home two points in this section: technology has changed and students have changed. We need to ensure we are adjusting our instruction for both. Moore pointed out that he had been teaching for 40 years, and he showed different pieces of technology used across those years. He asked some important questions:
- Is our curriculum on the cutting edge?
- Is equipment modern?
- What about technology?
- Do we consider students have changed?
It is essential that we continue to update our curriculum and courses to meet constant change.
Realization 2 – We need to use our brain
If professors had a brain… we would reexamine how we teach. Moore noted that traditional lectures dominate the classroom but lectures have major issues. The research tells how to teach better yet we cling to lectures which started in dark ages as a way to copy manuscripts. Ignoring that the world has changed will not impress students. Students now first gain exposure to information online; listening to lectures is no longer important to them. They need to engage with the material. Moore recommends reading the book Teaching Naked. Teaching Naked talks about how to flip instruction.
If we had a brain we would look at course delivery methods.
Moore talked about the importance of reading. He asked, “when is the last time you read a book about higher education?” He then proceeded to provide a recommended reading list:
- Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses
- Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It
- Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition
- Higher Education in America
- Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise
- Zombies in the Academy
- Teaching naked
- Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors
I really liked Moore’s point that the average chief officer of a Fortune 5000 company reads 6.7 business books per year. I had also written about this in Have you been reading more? There are many benefits to reading more about your craft or associated fields.
In this section, Moore challenged us to take on the following tasks:
- Do research on teaching.
- Read books on our profession and teaching.
- Study to become better.
- Encourage students to read and write.
Realization 3 – We don’t have courage
In this section, Moore encouraged us to try something new. Simply put, we cannot teach like all students are boomers. For example, Moore indicated, “I don’t like small group work.” Yet, he reworked a class to include a significant amount of group work based on what he learned about the millennials. He broke the class into teams; each team had to have an identity. Projects included developing a Web page around this identity and developing a social media campaign. He provided minimal instruction on how to accomplish these tasks. Moore offered a number of ideas for how to teach differently:
- Buzzer systems
- QR codes
- Make movies
- Synchronous chat
He encouraged us to try one new teaching idea each year.
Realization 4 – We need to have a heart
Moore shared a great story about how well behaved students become invisible compared to high achieving students and disruptive students. He stressed the importance to look for the invisible kid and help them also succeed.
Realization 5 – There is no wizard of oz
In this last section, Moore pointed out that “good teaching is good teaching.” It is a matter of becoming better at your craft. Each faculty member in his department teaches, at least, one online class per year to develop their online teaching skills. Online courses are not for everyone; therefore, NCSU offers both F2F and online courses for each course. Faculty are also encouraged to participate in teaching boot camps held each year.
Finally, Moore noted that he offers optional assignments, in other words, he offers students options of which assignments will count for a specific task. He also encouraged us to check out the Website called, “Team-Based Learning Collaborative” for ideas on how to teach differently.
Again, I was not disappointed with the selection of keynote speaker for this wonderful small conference. Each year, I am exposed to a number of wonderful ideas. The start of this conference with Dr. Gary Moore was no exception.