Monday, April 16

A lecture format that a sim-person could love

I travel all over the world presenting research and ideas on simulations (typically to a larger group, before working more closely with a smaller group). But I am constantly stuck with the same conundrum - how do you capture the spirit of simulations while presenting material?

(And just to say, I am no Thiagi. I cannot engage and delight anywhere near his level, if at all).

I was at the Army War College on Friday, and tried something for the first time that was really great. I loaded up a copy of my wiki-like blog on each of the student computers. I gave them free permission to unabashedly explore the material while I was talking.

I told them they could go straight to the sim Examples (everything in [brackets] took them to real, outside examples), if they wanted. Or they could explore theory and concepts. They could even drift off to tangential areas like Social Networking.

When I was talking, probably a third didn't hear a word I said - they were off exploring THE SAME MATERIAL, but in a self-directed and more open-ended way. Probably a third did what I would have done - drifted back and forth. And a third actually listened to me.

Clearly, this is a work in progress. But it felt like a major step, at least in my own view of what formal learning can and should be.


Dick Carlson said...

This is a great idea -- I'll try it on my next presentation. (I see people doing this already in my groups, though. I mention a link and they open their laptops, connect to the wireless, and are looking around in it.)

Next stage for me will be asking them to connect to information in this way, and then IM their feedback to a comments feed that I have scrolling up the screen behind me. Talk about working without a net.

When I used to do a lot of synchronous presenting (WebEx, etc.) I would leave the "Chat" feature turned on, and frequently encourage people to provide feedback, ask questions, comment on what a bonehead I was, and so forth. I found it much more enriching for the group, and it took away that "boring lecture" component from the webcast. (Try asking how many people are still paying attention after 30 minutes. It will surprise you.)

The point of teaching is to move each learner from where they are now, to where they can be later. Surprisingly, they understand this. It's usually us experts who miss it entirely.

Anonymous said...

I think the comment note after the presentation is useful for improving presentation skill. Novaboy