By Michelle Woodard
Shinobu Apple admits to being shocked when first presented with the idea of giving students responsibility to teach part of her course. “I am originally from Japan where the teaching method is strictly lecture-based—teachers give knowledge to students.”
Apple says a whole new world of learner-focused education opened up for her while taking several courses at the Teaching & Learning Centre last year, starting with the Teaching in Canadian Classrooms (TCC) workshop, which is funded by through the Students’ Union Quality Money program. She says the TCC workshop helped her address some of the communication issues she was having in her classroom and gave her the confidence she needed to start making changes in her courses.
With the aim of having students learn to structure their own opinions and polish their perspectives, Apple completely rebuilt her East Asia 317 course and put students in charge of their learning. Using assigned materials, students selected topics and facts they thought were important, organized them into lectures, built presentations and scripts, and created questions for in-class response.
“To be honest, I was very scared in the beginning and extremely relieved when students embraced the new approach,” says Apple. “The most important advice I got from the TLC was to believe in students’ abilities. In this contemporary time when knowledge is just a click away, feeding information to students is no longer as relevant as it was a couple of decades ago.”
The TLC is offering another Teaching in Canadian Classrooms workshop starting on Jan. 18. Get more information.