Monthly Archives: November 2010

Job Search Jeopardy!

The regular professor in the graduate class I am T.A. for, Career Development, allowed me to teach the entire four hour job searching class by myself. I was very excited, as I had never taught an entire class by myself before.

I really enjoyed formatting the entire class by myself.  I included elements I thought were important to teach the students about job searching that aren’t a usual part of the curriculum, such as: general business etiquette, including how to shake hands properly, and proper interview attire.  They also had the “usual and customary” lessons about how to create effective resumes and cover letters, how to prepare for a job interview, etc.  For the resume portion, I had them split up into teams to critique each others resumes using the resume rubric from our career center.

Now, onto the activity I want to highlight.  The students were required to research a “little known job search fact” and email it to me a few days before the class, along with the article citation.  I used this information in a question/answer format to create a Jeopardy! game.  I split the class up into 4 teams and played the theme music.  The particular website I used, http://warp.byu.edu/jeopardy/, kept score automatically.

Results: The students were actively engaged, perhaps a little too much so.  The teams were really competitive with each other, arguing between themselves and me about how they should have gotten credit for the right answer, etc., getting upset that I was “favoring” one team over another, etc, etc, etc.  Other than the griping, which the professor said was “mild” compared to what she has experienced, the game was really fun!  It was an active way to process the information the students had researched and it was edifying to see them get many of the answers correct, even though they weren’t the ones who provided the fact.  I would definitely do this activity again.  With roughly 15 items, it took about a half-hour of classroom time.

What I would do differently: Make sure you print out the question/answer sheet and bring it with you.  In the heat of the moment, it is unlikely you will remember the exact correct answer.  And exactness is key in this game!  If there is behind-the-scenes information, such as an article quote, summary or citation, you may want to bring that as well or at least hang onto it for reference.  Finally, I think I would state in the beginning that only EXACT answers will be accepted, and adjust the answers ahead of time to make them a little more inclusive; rather than having exact answers on the screen and then making a judgment call in the moment if the student was close enough.  I think this would greatly reduce the aforementioned griping, which was the only annoying thing about the activity.  Back to the positive side, I heard a few students say “cool” when I told the class we were going to play Jeopardy!

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Podcasts

I just attended a 3 hour workshop on “educasting.”  Podcasts are a surprisingly simple and convenient way to deliver content to students.  For example, if you wanted to clarify something that was discussed in class, or provide deeper information on a topic.

The way it works: You create the podcast, record a mini-lecture using software like Audacity (for PCs) or Garage Band (for Macs), then broadcast the episode to your students by creating a podcast episode using the mini-lecture.  Recommended length is 2-10 minutes, recommended format is m4a, and you can also add video by using software such as ProfCast.  In the beginning of the semester you create the podcast, then each time you want to deliver some course content  you simply record an episode.  Students will receive it automatically by “subscribing” to the podcast.

Audacity is recording software that is surprisingly easy to use.  You can add music to fade in and out, remove noise, adjust volume, etc.  So…you can produce some fairly professional sounding podcasts with equipment you probably already have.  If your computer doesn’t have a built in microphone, you may need to purchase one.   You may also want to purchase a portable recording device in the event you are lucky enough to interview someone prominent in your field, and want to share that interview with the students.  What better way than by creating a podcast episode?

Although it is too late this semester for me to utilize the subscription feature, I may decide to create a single episode for my last online lecture.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Multicultural Panel

Last night, in a master’s level Career Development class, rather than just lecture the students on multicultural issues for hours on end, I had the idea of creating a panel.  By asking “real” people from various cultures questions, students would have a unique opportunity to apply the information they have been researching, rather than just discussing it with themselves or their professors.  I thought it would be a great way to have the information “come alive”, plus I figured students must be curious about lots of things that only someone from that culture would know.

I invited several people I knew (outside academia) that were of a minority culture.  This took some effort, since some people didn’t want to drive to a strange place at night, struggle with parking only to enter a classroom where students are going to ask you all sorts of personal questions.  However, despite all this, I did find five people, which I figured was a good number.  Three were going to come in person and two were going to use Skype or iChat, since they were not local.  Unfortunately one member backed out at the last minute, and we had technical issues with the iChat connection, so we ended up with three people on the panel (two live and one on Skype).

Two weeks prior to the panel, I sent an email to the students outlining who would be on the panel and what their cultural background was.  I instructed the students to provide one question they would like to ask one or more panel members based upon the multicultural career development article they researched, or just something they have always wanted to know.  I gave them a due date of about 5 days prior to the panel, to give me an opportunity to read the questions to make sure they were relevant, appropriate and clearly-worded.  A few days prior to the panel, I emailed the questions to the panel, so they would know what was going to be asked of them.  (I used a Google document for this, which made this process very easy).

Other logistics: I snail-mailed the panel participants parking passes and maps, and gave them a thank-you gift afterward.

The results: Overall, the activity was a great success.  With a few exceptions, the students asked some very relevant and interesting questions.  A few examples:

1.  “What is one stereotype you’ve witness multiple times from people who are not familiar with your culture? Basically, if you could change/stop one stereotype, what would it be?”

2.  “Was there anything that a teacher/counselor (elementary, middle or high) did that had a positive impact on your cultural identity?  What do you wish your teachers/school counselors would have done differently?”

3. “What has been the biggest challenge that you have encountered while on the job due to your cultural differences or due to cultural differences of another person involved?”

The panel members spoke freely and appeared to feel very comfortable in front of the students.  The panel members were concise in their answers, yet thorough.  (I was afraid they might ramble on, but they didn’t).  The students appeared to be engaged, as there was silence when the panel members were speaking, all eyes were on them, with minimal fidgeting and no yawns, and several of the students asked follow-up questions.  The main professor even got involved, asking a few questions of her own.  The panel members appeared relaxed throughout, smiling, and were quite willing to address all of the students’ questions.

After the panel members left, we took a few minutes to process the activity.  The students told me that they really enjoyed it and thought it was good.  The only negative thing the students had to say was that they could not hear the person using Skype very well.  It helped that I summarized some of her responses, but it would have been much better if the students could have heard her more clearly.

Lessons learned: I probably would not choose to use Skype again.  For some reason Skype would not work when my laptop was connected to the overhead projector.  As a result, I spent the first 10 minutes of the panel fidgeting with the equipment, and texting the Skype panel person to try to figure out what went wrong.  When I finally did get Skype working, it was very difficult to hear that panel member, possibly due to her microphone.  Also, we couldn’t see her because she was on my tiny netbook laptop instead of projected on the screen as originally intended.

The fourth member, who we were supposed to connect with using iChat, never appeared.  I still don’t understand what happened.  I sent him texts that he never got.  He said he was on iChat, but we couldn’t see him.

At any rate, it was far too distracting to try to deal with all of those technical issues and run the panel at the same time!

What I would do differently:

1.  Have an assistant help me with technical issues so that I can run the panel.  No assistant, no Skype.

2. If I using Skype, do a sound check with panel members the day prior, and make sure they have my id as well.

3. If using Skype, have those on Skype sign in 15 minutes early so that any last-minute technical problems can be addressed.

4. If possible, get to the classroom the day prior and try using Skype on the projector.  This way there will be time to call technical support if there are any issues.

5. If there is no projector, don’t use Skype or iChat unless the sound is clear.  Not having a video image is OK, but the sound must be clear.

6. When inviting participants, make it clear that they are not expected to be the “expert” on their culture or ethnicity, that we are just curious about their personal experiences.

Conclusion: I would definitely do this activity again.  The students benefited greatly.  Although it requires a lot of advance planning, it is worth it.  I wouldn’t bother with Skype again, however.  The risk of technical issues isn’t worth the benefit of having that additional panel member that can’t be there in person.

Update on 12/17/12: The use of Skype in the classroom appears to be problematic in general. Besides the technical issues, students seem to complain when I have guest speakers over Skype.

*This activity has also been published:

LoFrisco, B. M. Multicultural Panel. (2012). In T. M. Laura, M. Pope, & C. W. Minor (Eds.), Experiential activities for teaching career counseling and for facilitating career groups (Volume III).  Broken Arrow, OK: National Career Development Association.

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