Bueller... Bueller... I think most of us have seen this seen from Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) where Ben Stein's character is taking attendance. If you noticed the students in the classroom, they are already bored -- a couple might just pass out. Although memorable, this is not the way to start off a class. In this module, we'll look at module introductions and starting a module out right. Introductions have multiple purposes:
- to grab the learners' attentions
- to stimulate the recall of prior knowledge
- to provide an overview or road map of the module
- to provide guidance
- even more...
It goes without saying, that in order to "teach", we need to have the learners' attentions. Attention is also a very important part of motivation. How can we motivate some one or something without grabbing their attention? Regardless, which learning theory or theories guide your instructional methods, motivation is sure to be part of it.
I think prior knowledge is a piece that we sometimes take for granted -- I know I do. It's important for a couple of different reasons. One reason is pretty basic. If someone doesn't have the prerequisite skills required to learn something, how can they learn it? The second reason is just the way our brains work. When we store things that we learn, we store them relative to something else we already know -- Schema Theory. There's also research that suggests that the more neurological connections we can make to something new, the more likely we'll retain it.
The road map is helpful to us as instructors, but it's also helpful for students. One thing that we might not really think about is the cognitive load that our courses require. By cognitive load, I'm not referring to the content, but to everything else. For example, do students know the correct way to proceed through your content? After they complete their reading assignments, do they know what they should do next? After completing one of your units or modules, do students know what they should have learned?
Introductions are also great places to set the "tone" of the course and they provide an instructor another place to create "instructor" presence in a course. For example, an introduction can take the form of an instructor made three-to-five (or even five-to-seven) minute, instructor-made video. The instructor can go over all of the high points of the module in the video. Hearing and seeing the instructor also helps the learners' feel that there's 'a person behind the computer...'
To be successful in this module: