Out of the comfort zone: a great gift

“Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us we find music”

Anonymous

 

I suppose I am not the only one who has been forced to change many approaches to his work as a result of COVID_19.

This year I had to release a new subject of project management in a master’s degree in industrial electronics at the University of Granada. I had designed the subject to be 100% presential. I had included many group activities working on communication, the team concept, risks, stakeholder management and almost all the key aspects of systematic project management.

But in just a couple of weeks I had to redesign the course to be able to teach it 100% online, making it necessary to redraw the whole structure of the course.

After more than twenty-five years teaching I have to say that it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my professional life. Thanks to the involvement of the students, the flipped class has proved to be an outstanding proactive learning tool with great results.

It has been necessary to include enough tasks and activities to ensure ongoing assessment of learning. These activities have contributed to improve and complete the contents and motivation of all the classes. I needed to make daily decisions in order to adjust the scope of each lesson to the requests made. In this sense, the maturity of the students has been a key factor in the high level achieved in the talks and debates.

The contributions of the students, some of them simultaneously studying and working, have helped to ensure that everything had a practical approach.

One of lessons learned is that there is no correspondence between the time spent on face-to-face and online teaching. Great care must be taken with the content, duration, design, form and, in short, how the course is constructed. It is very easy that the course ends up being tedious and boring.

Perhaps one of the keys to the success of this year’s course is that I was able to stimulate the curiosity of the students. When students are curious two essential things happen: it increases their aptitude for learning and it makes communication and the transfer of information and knowledge smoother.

I have spent many hours designing and developing a course on a subject that I have been teaching for many years. The difference is that this year I had to teach it outside my comfort zone.

The result has been a great personal learning. Also I have developed a complete and friendly course documentation. Finally, the most amazing result is a great desire to continue doing what I love most: teaching, sharing knowledge and learning from others.

For ending, let me say something that I think is a fake thought: the famous 10,000-hour rule, genuine success only comes to people who are willing to put in a great many hours to become first-class at something they value. After spending ten thousand hours working on a subject, you will know many paths to follow, you will have many questions to answer and many surprises to discover.