As my time as a PhD student (hopefully) winds to an end, I am beginning to look towards my career as an academic. I hope that part of that career includes teaching, which is why I eagerly accepted the opportunity to teach a module at Edinburgh Napier University this term. More accurately, I accepted the opportunity to co-teach alongside a more established and experienced educator, Professor Hazel Hall.
My official title is Associate Lecturer on a module called Knowledge Management (KM). The module, which is halfway over, is being delivered to a group of 4th-year honours students in the School of Computing. The module’s content includes lectures and activities related to approaches to KM, knowledge capital, KM infrastructures, and techniques for the creation, capture, classification, exchange, dissemination, and use of knowledge for competitive advantage and corporate growth.
By the end of the term, students will be able to: critically assess the general principles of KM; make effective use of the principles of KM in organisational settings to increase effectiveness; examine KM processes and tools for organisations; develop KM teamwork activities in organisations; and demonstrate sound understanding of theory and practice in KM.
I am sure that the students felt overwhelmed when these learning outcomes were shared on the first day of class. And I cannot imagine how overwhelmed I would have felt if I were teaching the module on my own.
However, whilst my role is one of “teacher”, I am also there as a learner. That is, a learner of teaching through co-teaching.
Some of it is quite easy though. For example, I feel quite confident in the task of speaking in public and sharing knowledge with an audience. I find delivering presentations and workshops to be energising and enjoyable. And I feel that when I deliver learning events, people do learn.
However, delivering a one-off workshop is not the same as delivering a multi-week module to a group of undergraduate students. And that is part of what I am learning from my teaching experience.
Thankfully, I am learning from someone who has a proven ability to deliver the module!
Hazel has taught the module for a few years now and has developed a strong programme of lectures, readings, personal study assignments, and in-class activities. This means that I have been able to see what a well-developed module looks like from beginning to end. Being able to see the entire term’s plan set out in front of me eliminates much of the unknown “fogginess” that I would expect if I were starting from scratch. Instead, Hazel knows what works well (and what doesn’t) and has learned through experience how best to deliver each segment.
From the administrative side, Hazel and I are both well-organised which means that her way of preparing for each class (and the module as a whole) suits my own working style – even though our overall organisational styles are not identical. Seeing how Hazel has organised materials (print and electronic) has given me a lot of ideas for how I can combine her methods with mine to improve on the ways I might have managed things without that insight.
Over the next few weeks, there will be more learning on my side as we near exam time. I am a tad nervous about marking all of those essays, but I imagine the students writing them will be a tad (or more!) nervous, too.
One of the things I’ve learned from teaching so far is that I was right in thinking that I would enjoy it. Although I know that the never-ending planning and administration that goes along with the role will bring a bit of stress and chaos on occasion, I feel that the rewards will far outweigh those (potential) negatives.
So, that’s another feather in my CV-hat (which you can view here).