Reading the biography of Dr Zbigniew Pelczynski is to gain a fascinating insight into a natural educator – an academic who is passionate about supporting and motivating learners. Faced with a cohort of students who were producing poor exam results he set up a couple of student societies where undergraduates could meet informally to hear an inspiring guest speaker, have a drink and talk around the subject and what they’d just heard – it worked. Results began to improve in the termly and annual exam results.
- This is what it requires for social learning to work online.
- A champion to make it happen
The incentive of a great mind or celebrity academic to offer an insightful short talk as an incentive to the later discussion.
But what about the food and drink, nibbles and tea (it doesn’t have to be alcohol). A couple of times in previous modules a bunch of us ‘Hung Out’ in Google+ and on one occasion we were meant to ‘bring along a drink’ while in on one memorable occasion, which was a giggle and truly innocent, one suggestion was to make it a pyjama party!
They key thing was to fix a date, which we coordinated in Google Events or some such, then be prepared to chill out, and keep the orientation on topic without the pressure of a formal tutorial.
How though to give it the continuity and impact of a student society? Given the session a name? How would we flatter, even pay guest speakers?
Or could we just watch a selected TED lecture first?
And why do results improve?
Social cohesion and responsibility to the group?