Today I begin one of my favorite teaching courses. The Digital Marketing program at Great Lakes Institute of Management. Great Lakes is one of India’s top Management Schools present on the outskirts of Chennai.
There’s something about the enthusiasm of the students that brings out the best in me. Read about my experience of teaching last year’s course and why I truly love teaching here.
There’s has been a tremendous response to this year’s course. Last year, there were 65 students in the Digital Marketing course. This year, that number has more than doubled to 140 students. I’m told that’s a houseful.
Large classes bring in its own set of complexities in teaching and I really look forward to the challenge. I have been researching on effective teaching methods to actively engage large classes and can’t wait to implement them.
I have sat through enough boring lectures during my college days to feel the pain that a student goes through. So, when I play the role of a professor, I get to change the rules to make it fun to learn.
Here are the photos from my recent teaching assignment at Bharathidasan Institute of Management (BIM, Trichy) where I took a 20 hour Digital Marketing course.
Because I’m a visiting faculty and that I need to travel from Chennai to Trichy for the classes, I can only afford to take off certain number of days from my work. This means that I need to take longer classes (sometimes 6 hours a day). This can be tough on both the teacher and more importantly the students.
I follow the certain techniques to not only overcome the learning fatigue but also to make it fun.
Horse-shoe Shaped Seating:
Among the first changes I make to the class is to change the seating from the traditional theater-style to a big U-shaped, horse-shoe style.
Its important for the students to see each other. The seating change itself gives a refreshing visual appeal and makes the class environment conducive to discussions.
Less Lecturing. More Discussions:
Lecturing is one way. Can be boring. Discussions and debates engages more students. Lessons are usually given as pre-class reading assignments and the class time is spent discussing them. I do a lot of break-out discussion during class. I always tell them its not about me trying to show how much I know but its about them knowing how much they understand. The students appreciate this attitude a lot, not to mention that they are a lot more attentive.
I break the class into smaller groups. Typically 5 students in a group. Each group is given a subject to learn, understand and teach the class the next day. Each group comes prepared with a 10 slide presentation to make in ten minutes. Ample time is given for questions and discussions. When students turn teachers, their learning quotient shoots up.
Freedom to Criticize the Teacher: Right at the very beginning, I make it clear that I teach from my experience and not from text books. Students are encouraged to challenge anything that they don’t feel is right. They are free to speak their mind with no repercussions.
The Push-Ups Rule: When anybody sleeps, I’m the one who is responsible for not keeping the class interesting enough. So, I get down on the ground and do 10 push-ups. Since I don’t like to do it alone, every students in the line where the person is sitting, need to join me. All of us do 10 push-ups. There’s smiles and laughter everywhere yet there’s a strong subtle message that demands everyone’s attention in class.
Quizzes are fun:
A great fun way to learn. Students love to compete and this is an excellent opportunity that combines competition and learning
In every class, I also find wanna-be quiz masters. I invite a couple of them to join me in preparing the quiz questions and make them the quiz masters. Every quiz has three rounds. (Written round, Round robin and the Buzzer round). I often step in to explain the answers and a great fun way to learn.
Sitting for too long can be tedious for the students. Hence, I always give them a physical activity to do that makes them get off their chairs. Typically its a short game or a group dance activity. Watch this video where the entire class does a Gangnam dance.
Here’s another video where we do the famous Chicken Dance.
It amazingly energizes the students and induces lots of laughter. There’s a combined sense of purpose and a great feel-good feeling. And the students are raring to get started with the next lesson.
Happy Students Learn Better
There’s no doubting that students love to be engaged and they deserved to be respected for their knowledge and enthusiasm. Its important to tap into the bountiful positive energy they posses. Make them happy and they naturally learn better.
Love to Learn from You:
These are some of the methods that I follow. If you are teacher, please feel free to follow any of these techniques. Please also let me know of new techniques that you follow. If you are a student, please tell me about your favorite teachers and what techniques they follow. I would love to add on new ideas.
I teach a 20 hours credit program on ‘Social Media Marketing’ for the MBA students at Great Lakes. Its one of the best MBA institutes in the country and rightly so.
As I began teaching, I found visible difference in the 65 students at my class at Great Lakes as compared to the other institutions I’ve taught at.
First, the students are lot more interactive and the number of people opening up to answer or ask questions is way higher than I had seen. I loved it for they perfectly fit into my collaborative and discussion based teaching method.
Second, they are not afraid to speak their mind. If they don’t like certain sections of the subject or if they find the case studies not up to the mark, they don’t hesitate letting me know during the class or walk up to me to let me know in private. That level of feedback greatly helps a teacher in tailor making the lessons to better suit the students’ needs.
Third, the percentage of attendance is astounding. I’ve had most of the students attend my classes. That may not sound like a big deal until you take into consideration that the students are nearing the end of their gruelingly packed one year course. The fatigue factor is usually high towards the end.
Over 90% of the students have got their job placements done. So, they got what they came to the campus for. Mission accomplished. Its time to “chillax”. The motivation to attend classes wanes. In other colleges, I have seen attendance drop abysmally but not here. Even on the day of Holi, with all the frenetic celebrations in the morning, most of the students landed up for my class. I was genuinely impressed.
I wondered why? Is it the compulsion of attendance? Partially true but its not like the students really care for it much. Is it that the management is very strict with the students? Nope. No sign of that.
I found out the real reason. The students came because they were interested in the subject. They opted for my course inspite of having the choice of over 50 plus elective courses available for them to pick. They weighed in on all the choices, listened to their heart and picked the electives that matched their passion and their career goals. This, in my opinion, makes the fundamental difference. That explains the high levels of engagement and their interest in learning. Infact, over half a dozen students who had chosen other subjects voluntarily sat through the sessions.
I hope our education system in schools and colleges takes a lesson out of this.
As for me, I look forward to heading back to the campus next week to take the remaining classes. Their enthusiasm is infectious.
At the start of my first day of class for the 2011 batch of students at the Madras Advertising Club, I asked them to do a task. I asked each of the students to write down three things that they HATE in a teacher and 3 qualities that they LOVE in a teacher.
I asked them to think of their teachers in school and college while listing down their thoughts. I advised them not to write their names as I wanted them to write with a free and open mind.
These inputs are always helpful in understanding the expectations of the students. I’m passionate about consistently improving myself as a teacher and have found these to be very helpful in my pursuit of excellence.
I figured I would share this list as this would be useful for anyone interesting in teaching.
I have compiled all the points together. I have left out duplicate points. The language you find below are from the students themselves with just minor polishing from my side.
WHAT WE HATE IN A TEACHER
- Talking only theoretically about a subject.
- Showing partiality to select students
- Thinking students are Morons and does not respect their intelligence.
- The ‘I am the boss here’ kind of attitude
- Not presenting oneself interestingly to the students.
- Being arrogant
- One who demotivates back-benchers
- Not having real work experience and practical experience in the field
- Being bookish
- One who is judgmental about students based on their academic scores
- Too much focus on notes and attendance
- Spits when they talk
- Not dressing smartly
- Can’t take criticism
- Not providing examples or case-studies
- Not having command or presence in the class
- Without passion for teaching
- Teachers who preach rather than teach
- Teachers who harass emotionally
WHAT WE LIKE IN A TEACHER
- One who shares all his knowledge without holding anything back
- Who is practically interactive
- Having an ‘I’m going to rock this class’ attitude.
- Showing equal importance to all students
- Uses easy methods of teaching
- Sharing their own experiences
- One who prepares well for the classes
- Practical knowledge sharing – Treating class as a forum for discussion
- Flexibility in terms of generational change
- High involvement with the students
- Good presentation skills
- Being Punctual
- A good relationship beyond teaching
Hope you found these lists useful. Do add in your likes and dislikes below and will add them to the list above.
I’ve taken charge of the course ‘Entrepreneurship and Media Management’ at Anna University’s Dept of Media Studies. As part of the course, I rope in experienced professionals to give guest lectures to the final year students.
For this week, I’m roping in Geoffrey G Thomas, a veteran in the Radio business and a guy who defies his age with his enthusiasm and youthfulness.
Geoff has been in the radio industry for over 15 years. He started off as an on air presenter in 1995 on Times FM ( Now Radio Mirchi). In 1999, he was unanimously voted as the best on air presenter by a leading english newspaper.
From year 2000 to 2009, he was with Radio Indigo in Bangalore, where he set up the country’s first all English private FM radio station. Responsible for both Bangalore and Goa, he was the National Programming Director during that period.
Later, he moved backed to Chennai and took charge as the Chief Programming Officer at Chennai Live 104.8 FM. He was here for two years from April 2009 to April 2011.
Geoff is now an entrepreneur and is in the process of setting up his own venture called Amaranta Entertainment.