Sometimes it’s the little things that get you over the line. Research and Malcolm Gladwell have said so.
In teaching, I often find that it is the seemingly small things that have me exit the class with the feeling that things are, on the whole, rather excellent.
Like finding a working whiteboard marker. Finding a white board eraser. Students choosing to sit at the front of a room rather than making you shout up to the nosebleed section. Catching the ‘Aha’ moment in someone’s face.
Or when you’re explaining a concept to the class, there’s puzzled looks, and then one student gently takes over and explains it again to the rest of the class and they all go ‘Ohhhh’ and you’re pretty sure that this is what it’s all about.
Like when the edtech works perfectly.
Or, more accurately, when you know how to work the edtech perfectly.
Now, this last is a major one for me;
something in the way my brain is wired makes me forget how to work the lectern EVERY SINGLE TIME I go to use it.
Not just how to use it but how to turn it on, how to make sure it doesn’t time out on me, how to get away from behind the lectern every so often but still have everyone hear me by using the right microphone correctly… it’s apparently a multi-tasking nightmare for my brain which shuts down and pretends it’s a slug. Anyway.
I’m going to be generous to my brain and attribute much of my confusion to the fact that I never received any actual training in how to use the equipment.
I’m sure there was training available, but I didn’t seek it out and it didn’t really go looking for me either.
For years I relied on the written and laminated instructions available at every lectern, and which I read every time I went into the room but because I was in Teaching Mode, my Learning Mode (which I needed to retain the information beyond that moment), was apparently not engaged and I still couldn’t make the thing work. I became used to having a tiny buzz of pure panic at the start of every class, which is not optimal for good teaching.
And so because learning how to properly use the equipment in all the learning spaces was one of the fundamentals of teaching I missed out on, when the Learning Innovation Hub and Audio-Visual Technical Services (AVTS) recently shared videos they had co-produced on Lectern Fundamentals and Microphone Techniques, I flipped out. (View both of the videos below).
“I don’t understand why everyone’s getting so excited,” one of the LIH team members who produced the videos (and Teche editor) Geraldine said, “they’re simple how-to videos. We do these all the time!” And yes, they/we do.
But knowing how to use this particular equipment – the lectern, the microphones – is one of the seemingly very ordinary things that nonetheless contribute to the ‘flow’ in teaching. No matter the class, no matter the discipline – if you teach in a university, you need to know how to use these things well.
So for those of you who, like me, never got around to learning the proper how-tos of using the lectern and microphone and/or who operate them using an approach that is best described as a wing and a prayer, here are some (very) handy resources:
Lectern Fundamentals Video
(covering access, source, destination, microphones and Echo recordings)
Microphone Technique Video
(covering the various types of microphones and why it’s important to use them)