Microbiology and human disease. When I was in high school I went on a field trip to a University to explore different careers. A Microbiology Professor there showed me an agar plate and some bacteria and I was so fascinated that I knew I wanted to learn more about those little creatures that sometimes make us sick. I have a passion for science and medicine and this class gives me the opportunity to expose my student to both. Here they can know the science behind the diseases people get and gain a better understanding of why sometimes, our body’s defenses lose the battle against microbes. This class gives me the opportunity to be very creative when teaching it and use examples that students can relate to. Subsequently, I find it fun to teach and intriguing to learn.
I advise any new person desiring to teach an on-line or hybrid class to start slow. Get familiar with the technology you will be using first and get organized! You need to have a clear vision of how you will be presenting that topic and what are the learning objectives, so students know what is expected of them and by when (time frame to complete tasks). Students need to know the big picture before they can digest the parts of it. Make it clear to them and divide the course into chunks or parts that cover several chapters in each part. Begin with web-enhanced in a traditional class, then move on into hybrid and finally when you transition into on-line courses, it will be much easier. You cannot run before you can walk!!
The clickers system. At the beginning, in the middle or at the end of a lecture or concept, I display questions to test their knowledge. I give them time to discuss it among themselves before submitting answers. In this sense this is cooperative learning too. They seem to love it and are ready for more. It gives me, as well as the student an idea of how well we are doing as a teacher and as students, and how much effort we need to put into a particular concept that students are not grasping well. Students can compare themselves with their peers and adjust their studying habits to catch up with the rest of the class. I use other tools like message board and chat (during my virtual office hours).
I use the “Big picture” approach. At the beginning of a new topic, I share with them true stories or news articles that relate to concepts or diseases we are about to learn. I always question, or survey my students about the topic as it relates to their life experiences. I find examples or application to our daily life in the concepts I teach to make it easier for students to understand it and help them see the importance of learning this concept for their career or life. I use concept maps to show them the “Big picture” and how each of the topics relates to other topics of that chapter and into their lives. These concept maps are one page in size, but they contain the essence of the chapter and arrows that link one topic to the other to help students integrate different concepts, that otherwise will be difficult to associate. This is the “Big picture” approach. Then I begin to teach by sections.