Evolution – Searching for the Wizard of Oz

One of the highlights of my year is participating in the University of Wyoming Evolution conference. This year’s conference was another rewarding event. It began with keynote speaker Dr. Gary Moore. Dr. Moore is a tenured Full Professor of Agriculture and Extension Education at North Carolina State University. Moore gave an animated presentation entitled “Searching for the Wizard of Oz.” The entire presentation was based around the movie Wizard of Oz.

Here are the realizations he shared:

Realization 1 – not in Kansas anymore

Moore drove home two points in this section: technology has changed and students have changed. We need to ensure we are adjusting our instruction for both. Moore pointed out that he had been teaching for 40 years, and he showed different pieces of technology used across those years. He asked some important questions:

  • Is our curriculum on the cutting edge?
  • Is equipment modern?
  • What about technology?
  • Do we consider students have changed?

It is essential that we continue to update our curriculum and courses to meet constant change.

Realization 2 – We need to use our brain

If professors had a brain… we would reexamine how we teach. Moore noted that traditional lectures dominate the classroom but lectures have major issues.  The research tells how to teach better yet we cling to lectures which started in dark ages as a way to copy manuscripts. Ignoring that the world has changed will not impress students. Students now first gain exposure to information online; listening to lectures is no longer important to them. They need to engage with the material. Moore recommends reading the book Teaching NakedTeaching Naked talks about how to flip instruction.

If we had a brain we would look at course delivery methods.

Online Education is critical to the Long-term Strategy of my Institution - Fall 2002 to Fall 2012.
Online Education is Critical to the Long-term Strategy of my Institution – Fall 2002 to Fall 2012.

Moore talked about the importance of reading. He asked, “when is the last time you read a book about higher education?” He then proceeded to provide a recommended reading list:

I really liked Moore’s point that the average chief officer of a Fortune 5000 company reads 6.7 business books per year. I had also written about this in Have you been reading more? There are many benefits to reading more about your craft or associated fields.

In this section, Moore challenged us to take on the following tasks:

  • Do research on teaching.
  • Read books on our profession and teaching.
  • Study to become better.
  • Encourage students to read and write.

 Realization 3 – We don’t have courage

In this section, Moore encouraged us to try something new. Simply put, we cannot teach like all students are boomers. For example, Moore indicated, “I don’t like small group work.” Yet, he reworked a class to include a significant amount of group work based on what he learned about the millennials. He broke the class into teams; each team had to have an identity.  Projects included developing a Web page around this identity and developing a social media campaign. He provided minimal instruction on how to accomplish these tasks. Moore offered a number of ideas for how to teach differently:

  • Clickers
  • Buzzer systems
  • Prezi
  • Geocaching
  • GPS
  • Jing
  • QR codes
  • Wordle
  • Make movies
  • Synchronous chat

He encouraged us to try one new teaching idea each year.

Realization 4 – We need to have a heart

Moore shared a great story about how well behaved students become invisible compared to high achieving students and disruptive students. He stressed the importance to look for the invisible kid and help them also succeed.

Realization 5 – There is no wizard of oz

In this last section, Moore pointed out that “good teaching is good teaching.”  It is a matter of becoming better at your craft. Each faculty member in his department teaches, at least, one online class per year to develop their online teaching skills. Online courses are not for everyone; therefore, NCSU offers both F2F and online courses for each course. Faculty are also encouraged to participate in teaching boot camps held each year.

Finally, Moore noted that he offers optional assignments, in other words, he offers students options of which assignments will count for a specific task. He also encouraged us to check out the Website called, “Team-Based Learning Collaborative” for ideas on how to teach differently.

Again, I was not disappointed with the selection of keynote speaker for this wonderful small conference. Each year, I am exposed to a number of wonderful ideas. The start of this conference with Dr. Gary Moore was no exception.

2 thoughts on “Evolution – Searching for the Wizard of Oz”

  1. I agree with Professor Moore in that reading in or out of your field of interest or area of your expertise not only allows you to expand your knowledge base but expands your mind. Our minds need unusual and different stimulus to expand our creativity, weather into the area of business or teaching. It allows us to engage not only your mind , but others. In the long run it will show that when dealing with issues, or problems your mind will be open to thinking outside box.

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