Helpful ideas for teaching in a compelling and memorable manner

The secret to powerful instruction is to involve learners in activities in which they do the work of interacting with new content, wrestling with concepts, and teaching those concepts to others, according to Vicki Halsey in her book Brilliance by Design: Creating Learning Experiences That Connect, Inspire and Engage. The book goes on to describe the author’s six-step teaching model which goes by the acronym ENGAGE:

  • Energize learners by getting them excited and curious about your subject
  • Navigate content by presenting it in digestible pieces
  • Generate meaning by letting learners determine the significance of the content to their lives
  • Apply to the real world by helping learners put into practice what they have learned
  • Gauge and celebrate, assessing what has been learned enjoying the success
  • Extend learning to action by following up with learners afterwards

I was particularly interested in the chapter on the virtual classroom. I know the allure of multitasking when sitting in front of a computer, making it very difficult to concentrate fully on a single presenter for an extended period of time. The author highlights the critical importance of having some type of interaction every 2 to 3 minutes to maintain interest and using a range of other attention-grabbing techniques. Distance learning is particularly difficult when video or audio presentations are pre-recorded, so that there is no live human interactivity.

Before reading the book I was concerned that it might be too exuberant for my tastes. I am really more interested in teaching postgraduate law students in a compelling and memorable manner than in “unleashing brilliance”. I was pleased to find plenty of helpful ideas in the book applicable to my situation. The author has taught Master of Science and MBA classes, so many of the techniques she suggests are as applicable to a well-educated sceptical audience as much as they are to any other class of learners.

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