I love teaching. I hate lectures. That is why I am constantly searching for different methods to engage students and motivate them to active learning. I challenge students and myself with tasks such as writing books together, simulation games or gamification. Due to this, my classes are difficult, but potentially very rewarding. You may love them or hate them.
Within introductory courses students are incentive to write reflective learning diaries. The reflective writing allows students to develop critical thinking, to analyse what they have learned and how it relates to them as individuals. Sometimes they comment on the process of learning itself. They are usually reluctant at the beginning, but at the end of semester I receive many fantastic reflective papers.
My favourite type of writing assignment.
Some classes are designed around inquiry-based activities, with the collaborative work of students and a teacher. Students learn in the most active manner and become producers, rather than consumers, of knowledge. This exercise, deeply rooted in the classical idea of Humboldtian university, is effective and very rewarding way of learning. Authoring academic book or handbook for secondary schools is… fun! Isn’t it?
‘Gamification’ is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. A few years ago it became a hot topic not only in marketing, but also in higher education. I welcomed this idea enthusiastically, hoping that I found a Holy Grail that allows me to engage students in my classes in a way they are engaged in playing computer games. After few years of practicing gamification, I am much less enthusiastic and much more aware of its limits… but still convinced that it may be useful in academic teaching.
I love simulation games and see them as a great way to develop crucial skills. I organise simulations to let students experience the dynamics of diplomatic meetings and to make them understand the peculiarities of high-level politics. They train public speaking, negotiations and speech writing, being observed by me from outside. Sometimes I have to engage more in a game, but generally it is a student-centred activity. Much more efficient than lecturing!