How to Make Your Students Love Online Lectures
Feeling frustrated about the limitations of online teaching? Dr Fred Mayo is here to tell you how to turn the whole thing into an adventure for your students. Mayo, a retired clinical professor in hospitality and tourism management at New York University (NYU), talked to Wittenborg CEO Maggie Feng about some techniques he applies to engage students better and make them excited about learning through a screen.
But first, a detour. Mayo said one of the subjects he taught at NYU was Research Methods – which he aptly calls "the course no one wants to teach". A fact many lecturers will testify to. "But I loved teaching and wrote a book about it, which came out of all the questions students were asking me in class. There aren’t many good books focusing on this area. I start by telling students they have been doing research all their life, they just did not realise it. This is very much like the way the Dutch think when they are confronted with a problem. They see it as an opportunity, not a negative."
According to Mayo he likes to be experimental about how he teaches and will often work "backwards or sideways" to traditional teaching. A simple example is that instead of giving students a PowerPoint slide deck of notes when the lecture starts, he will give it afterwards. "I will unpack the entire two-hour lecture in one slide, which forces them to pay attention and write things down. It is common knowledge that when you write things down, you remember them better. If I give the notes at the start, people will sit back and think they don't have to pay attention. It is better if they don't know what's coming. It keeps them curious and engaged."
He encouraged lecturers to think consciously about finding new ways to communicate with students. "The trick is, if you’re excited about online teaching, they will be excited about it. Students are often in a room at their home, or the kitchen, that is not set up as a classroom. Ask yourself: How do we recognise that reality? The most important thing is the discussion and the interaction."
Call me by my name
"For instance, online I make sure I call students by their name. That is the advantage of teaching online – you can see their names on the screen with the corresponding faces. If you are in a big class offline, you often cannot remember everyone's name. So I ask them a question by name and make them call someone else by name. That way, you make sure everyone is included. Another advantage of online learning is that you are not looking at the back of someone's head like in class – everyone can see everyone else.
"One of the keys is to unpack the lecture. I will put up all the key concepts and words and ask someone to pick a word, explain the meaning and give an example of how it is used in the industry. Then I will ask another student if the person is correct – so they all have to listen and pay attention. So you have a discussion going on even though it's online.
"It is all about pushing their critical thinking and inviting them to use their mind and be heard. Like in the hospitality industry, it's about greeting people, about being seen and acknowledged as a human being. Then they feel comfortable."
Fred Mayo, MBA, PhD, CHT, CHE, retired in December 2019 after 15 years as Clinical Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at New York University. Before that, he ran his own consulting firm and was dean of faculty at The Culinary Institute of America for 12 years. He has presented research on etiquette and soft skills at EUROCHRIE and lectured at etiquette dinners for a number of college programmes. Currently serving as Executive Director of Outreach and Partnerships (interim) for ICHRIE, he has been coordinating and presenting talks and workshops at ICHRIE for the past 25 years.
by Anesca Smith