Okay, here we go! Our first brief for the Research and Communication module is dubbed 'International Pedagogy'. Sounds a little bit scary with that academic term right there in the title, but no need to panic. Let’s decode what it actually says in the language of the commonfolk, starting by examining the original text of the brief.
The first project concerns the editing and presentation of information and understanding and engaging with your audience through the design of a simple learning tool.“
Requirements of the brief
You are required to present members of your new cohort with succinct information to teach them what ‘you’ think they need to know about where you are from. It should be seen from a personal perspective, NOT a tourist’s perspective.
Your outcome could include for example; key words and phrases, cultural considerations, etiquette and how to be streetwise. Think of the ‘place’ you come from and not necessarily the country.
You will present this project on 30 November in the form of a succinct 10-minute presentation supported by your Learning Journal/Blog. The work could be in the form of an oral presentation, printed leaflet, PowerPoint, blog, app, website, polemic, spreadsheet etc. Whatever is the best mode to relay the information.
*Do not overrun the 10-minute time limit
Take a few moments to re-read this a couple of times. Ideally sentence by sentence, word by word. This is the first step of my method to combating projects – you have to deconstruct and reconstruct the brief so that you can get a better understanding of the issue at hand.
Here is my translation: With this project I will have to cherry pick (read as 'select and edit') and present a piece of information to my peers. The delivery and content must be appropriate to the audience – they should be able to make a connection with the presented information. The medium, which is going to carry that piece of information, is referred to as “the design of a simple learning tool”, which can be anything (a powerpoint, live performance, excel spreadsheet,... - just let your imagination run wild). The piece of information should be coming from one's personal perspective and must give the audience a better understanding of a place of origin.
There is a strong emphasis on the personal aspect. Understandably, no one would be thrilled to sit through a presentation that just highlights already well-known spots to visit and general information for tourists. This is also the thing that makes it quite hard to decide on what to share with the group. Considering that I have spent the majority of the past 3 years in the UK, I am not sure if I have the right to be the one who selects how my Country (or city, or place, or whatever you want to call it) is represented. If we go back to the “…what YOU think they need to know…” then that sentence does spark up some ideas, especially when it comes to customs and the small things that are different ‘where I am from’ to ‘how things are in the UK’. Now, I know that most of the people on my course aren’t from the UK, but I think that it can serve as a common ground which we all can relate to and have some experience of living in.
Another aspect of this project that I find interesting is the teaching/learning tool. I did a quick search on Google and it only confirmed what I had suspected – there is learning/teaching method for everything and anything you can think of, but the key question is whether they are appropriate for the situation.
Let’s look at this in more depth. In a school setting the teacher is the one who determines the tools (or methods). However, each individual student has their own preferred style of learning and yet they have the same teacher = one teaching method. (Of course, I am not saying that teachers stick to only one method but you get what I am saying, right?)
This scenario reminds me of the relationship between a chef and his customers. The chef doesn’t know who he’s preparing the meal for, but the dish will be well received anyway. That is because customers have the advantage of knowing what to expect as they can choose what fits their taste buds off the menu. They are not going to accept just anything that comes out of the kitchen, they make an order and chefs all over the world have to deliver to their expectations. Now, let’s imagine that this power and freedom of choice is removed, and that only the chef knows who they are making the dish for (to a certain extent). This would closely resemble the dynamics between a teacher and his student cohort. Before we get any further, I would like to point out that it is debatable to what extent the teacher ‘knows’ their audience as it largely depends on where we find ourselves in the academic year. Regardless, the least they can know for sure is the age group.
Alternatively, we can liken this situation to the relationship between a writer and a reader, but I think that this is a bit more complex because it involves marketing. In an ideal world, if everything works as it should then books wouldn’t be picked off the shelf by someone who isn’t the target audience. To get to the point, in our first Research and Communication session we have concluded that if the reader finds the language of the book hard to grasp then it is the authors fault, which just emphasises the importance of appropriateness.
Which brings me back to my assignment and what are the key takeaways from these analogies. The only thing that I can be certain of is that my audience is made up of my peers. However, I cannot jump to conclusions and tailor the presentation to my liking based on my assumptions. The second key element is that the best learning/teaching tool is the one that the presenter is most comfortable with – if you want to, you can support this point with the overused “confidence is a key to success” quote.
Lastly, I would like to address the openness of the presentation format. According to the brief deliverables, the presentation can take on any form imaginable. I appreciate the freedom, but I don’t think that I will be using this as an opportunity to develop a new experimental information delivery method. Everything has it’s time and place and as I have mentioned earlier in this text – the presenter must be comfortable with his/her tools. The reason why an unknown dish has a chance to be well received by a customer is because it’s delivered in a familiar format (or context if you would like). I don’t want to sound as if I am against experiments or risks but for me it is not the best option right now. Soo... How do you grasp one’s attention? Now, that we have sufficiently deconstructed and reconstructed our brief we can start thinking about the strategy and structure. Starting with the element of engagement or relatability. Someone who is fully engaged in an activity must first pay attention. To address this criterium I would like to take inspiration from the news headlines. They provide you with just about enough information to lure you in to click on ‘read the full article’. This is also known as the 'hook strategy', which is frequently used not only to compose catchy headlines, but we can also observe this tactic in every day marketing. For the more tech savvy folk, the carousel posts which are quickly populating Instagram serve as a great example too.
The first resource that I came across 'A Novel Method to Investigate the Effect of Social Network ‘Hook’ Images on Purchasing Prospects in E-Commerce' (Smaoui, 2017) examines the hook as a marketing strategy, as I expected. The second one ‘The Hook’ - Teaching Strategies for Every Teacher (Mayberry, C. S.) offers the hook as a teaching method, which only supports my initial theory, that taking a leaf out of the social media book might be a good place to start.
About the Hook
The hook method is based on the cognitive learning theory. The goal is to tap into individuals long term memory and If done properly, the new information gets hooked (or attached/connected) to the old memory – establishing its own place in one’s mind (one's information filing system).
This can be done in various ways - with a question at the beginning of the lesson, using an analogy connecting the information to the students' lives, using other media (visual, sound…), props, or setting up a challenge.
Sidenote: I have been religiously listening to The Futur podcast for some time now, coincidentally they just came across the topic of pedagogy in one of their recent episodes. Here’s a little snippet:
Q - How can we use methods to teach others? Especially, when we do not have a background in teaching? Also, how do you develop a teaching method?
Chris – “Pedagogy is a space ripe for innovation because a lot of our teaching models are built on memorization and we now know that it is not a very helpful skill and it’s not needed anymore. You don’t need to memorize anything because you have this thing called a smartphone that connects you to the worlds information database. So, what we need to do is develop more skills in critical thinking, creative thinking and maybe like design thinking - It all involves the word thinking.”
“Now, how do you learn how to teach if you are not a teacher? The best way I know how to learn to teach is to just get Infront of a room or a small group of people and try to share a concept, to get real time feedback and not to be overprepared with things. Because you want to be very loose, you want to be as engaged and responsive to what is going on as possible. A lot of people think “I am going to teach something. So, I am going to sit down, and I am going to write a 40-page manual, and I am going to teach, and everything is going to be great.” What you are doing isn't teaching – you are preparing collected, curated information and there is a big gap between information and education. Okay? Information is cheap, it is actually free because nowadays you can just use Google and find most of the information that you need. What you are trying to do is that you are helping to create transformation in the person - they want to achieve a certain goal or an outcome. And the best I know how to do that is to get Infront of real people, think through and exercise, preferably an exercise that they can do together so that they are able to learn.”
(Introducing ‘Hey Chris’ with Chris Do and Greg Gunn, 2020)
I feel very confident about the 'hook theory'. Everything seems to be falling into place, as I can easily spot the similarities between our DIBM sessions and the methods I have explored. Now what?
My plan is to come up with a series of customs that are characteristic for my place of origin, which I am going to label with a catchy headline that doesn’t reveal the whole story (full context). I am also going to explore the possibility of adding some editorial illustrations. We are visual creatures so adding imagery can support the level of engagement and information retention. Another thing that I am considering is using gamification. Quite recently, I made a presentation for my Alma Mater (you can see the presentation on my blog), and I used Cards Against Humanity as an inspiration for the delivery system of my tips. Each card had its own headline on the back and the advice was revealed once the card was flipped – this is as close as I could get to an interactive presentation via an online video call. So, I might try that too + this time I could make a printed version (I just have to visit the print studio to see what my options are. UPDATE - I couldn't get a hold of the staff in the printing studio due to the Covid restrictions).
Elderly – Pregnant – Adult – Children
Stay right there!
The Ultimate Taboo
Please, undress from the bottom up.
Before you dig in...
Also, it might be appropriate to provide the audience with some general information at the start of the presentation, perhaps 2-3min. My intention is to avoid using photographs (as that is one of the many things that Google is great for – there is no need for me to showcase a gallery of readily available material) so I am leaning more towards using a map to show the geographical positioning of Czech Republic and mentioning the size of its population.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats, our program is about to begin..."
Introducing ‘Hey Chris’ with Chris Do and Greg Gunn (2020) TheFutur. At: https://thefutur.com/podcast/introducing-hey-chris (Accessed 04/10/2020).
Mayberry, C. S. (s.d.) ‘The Hook’ - Teaching Strategies for Every Teacher. At: https://sites.google.com/site/teachingstrategiesforall/-the-hook (Accessed 04/12/2020).
Smaoui, M. R. (2017) 'A Novel Method to Investigate the Effect of Social Network ‘Hook’ Images on Purchasing Prospects in E-Commerce' In: Complexity 2017 At: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/complexity/2017/9264920/ (Accessed 04/12/2020).