Daniel Maday on Digitizing Your Classroom

Hello, friends. Are you teaching a class this fall? Are you teaching it online or in some hybrid format? Then today’s guest has some advice for you. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. Better than okay, even. Take a listen to Daniel Maday (LinkedIn, Email, 630.903.1152). He has some good advice for you.


This is an AI-translated transcript and may not be completely accurate. Please do not quote myself or any of my guests based on this transcript.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  00:02

Welcome, everyone to the Department 12 Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Ben Butina. Joining me today is Daniel Maday. How are you, Daniel?

Daniel Maday  00:11

I am doing well Ben. Glad to join you.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  00:14

Right. So Daniel, you teach at the University of Hartford in the master’s IO psych program and you teach training program design and evaluation, right?

Daniel Maday  00:24

That’s correct. Yeah.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  00:26

All right. And the reason that Daniel is on the show today is to share some tips for digitizing the classroom, which I know is a situation that a lot of you find yourself in, maybe you’ve been teaching for a long time, and you’re moving to the digital classroom for the first time or maybe you’re doing hybrid. It seems like every university has a slightly different plan for how they’re doing this, but I know that Daniel is going to have some useful advice. So let me start with kind of a weird question for you, Daniel. As somebody that is not only an instructor yourself, but Someone that studies, you know, instructional design and program design. When you think about the average instructor who’s never taught online before, let’s just say they have, you know, average technical abilities, but they’re mostly accustomed to teaching in person. And they need to move their material either fully online or into an hybrid onto a hybrid format. How difficult of a transition is that? Let’s just say like on a one to 10 with one being, you know, tying your shoe and 10 being the feeler physics.

Daniel Maday  01:35

Well, I think would fall in the realm of IO psychology. It’s intimidating at first, but once you get everything planned out and plotted out it’s a very efficient system. I’d give it a six. It really comes down to instructional design.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  01:50

All right. So what advice would you start with, if someone’s looking to make that transition? They’re, they’re looking at a stack of you know, syllabi and slides and things that they’re used to presenting in that classroom. How do they get started?

Daniel Maday  02:06

Sure. So the biggest thing to keep in mind is that you will be learning and you’re going to keep improving. One of the great things about going online is that everything’s digitized. And there’s a lot of data to look at. So you can track changes and have way better metrics to see what’s different. Now, as far as getting started, take a deep breath, remain calm. There’s usually a big workload and especially right now, a pretty quick push. But then either way I took it when I first started was just getting your basics down, right there syllabus, make sure that’s iron tight and make that your roadmap. Does anything need to change in the syllabus? Odds are 80% to 90% of that will remain the same unless you had some other strong physical component. And then from there, a lot of what you’ll be doing is building out some paths or just some flexibility in the course, odds are if you have to convert, there’s something else that’s causing you to do so. So you want to make sure you write that into your syllabus and be mindful of it. students know what’s going on, especially at the graduate level. So it’s best to bring them into that conversation and integrate it into your lessons, if you can.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  03:20

You mentioned something very early on in your answer that caught my attention. I wanted to jump back to it. You talked about, there’s more metrics, there’s more trackability in the online classroom. Can you give me a couple of examples of some things that you might track in an online classroom that you wouldn’t be able to track or analyze in the live in person classroom?

Daniel Maday  03:44

Oh, yeah. One of the favorites is we use a service called Canvas for learning management system, and we also use Ensemble which is for recording and media reservation. As part of that I can see not only who’s watched the video, but as you can see how many people have listened to the lecture either video or audio, at what point they stopped off on a mobile desktop or sensor combination.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  04:12

That’s super useful. I’ve gotten just a little peek into the world of those kinds of metrics for the podcast. And that’s how I know generally how long to make the shows, because I know in general, when people tend to tune out, so that’s, I could see that being really useful for teaching a class. I wonder, like the ensemble, you said, that’s the tool that you use for creating. Is it like, lectures, presentations? How does it work? Exactly. It’s both.

Daniel Maday  04:44

So the way I approach the class is it’s either called an online hybrid is synchronous or asynchronous depend on students preferences. So every week, it’s a seven week course I have a live online lecture. And that’s added to survey before the class begins to figure out what time works best for most people. From there, it’s usually Wednesday nights and you can join into the meeting live. There’s a few different ways you can do that on the telephone. We use WebEx, or  Join Me, are all great programs. And from there they see a video, just a little thumbnail of me in the corner. And most of it’s on the slide itself and just lecturing through, depending on how many are attending. We will have some discussions too.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  05:28

Okay, have you found that the video thumbnail of yourself and I assume that’s live? It’s like a little talking head video of you. Exactly. Have you found that that’s important?

Daniel Maday  05:40

Yes, and no. Frankly, on the student side, it’s not important. Most nobody really cares to see me. first lecture I show a few pictures of myself and my cat just to show them that there is a face. But if you’re new to recording, it definitely helps to see a face and talk to one. For example right now since we’re recording Audio. I’m looking at a little plushie cat my partner has just so talking to a face.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  06:08

Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. So it’s almost more for the instructor than it is for the students. You know, when you think about someone who is used to lecturing, or presenting in front of a class, and they have access to the full range of you know, like, body language and the social cues of making eye contact and, you know, facial expressions and reading the room and that kind of thing. What, if anything, can an instructor do to replicate some of the those tools in the online environment?

Daniel Maday  06:43

Yeah, it depends on your context. You mentioned the plushy, it helps to have some sort of face to look at. If you have somebody who’s very moon in your quarantine with having an audience just sit around can be really helpful. But end of the day, It really depends on what your class is focusing on. And when I like to give advice on is that you’re going to have more options for people. And all the content and resources you provide are accessible to all students, but they’re not for all students. And what I mean is that, you know, a few years students who don’t want to have every little extra additional reading, and some are just going to show up for the tests. And that works out well for both of them depending on what their study habits are. So keeping that in mind, you are going to have some low attendance lectures, probably, especially at first, and that’s fine. You have to kind of disconnect that you are going to have a bit longer turnaround time and that transfer of learning. Now the advantage here is that you can throw more methods and more resources that you wouldn’t otherwise do previously, and you’re face to face. Not sure you’d have to do everything in an hour. So when you’re in the lecture hall, now you can refer resources done on the fly, have hyperlinks in your lecture slides have readings that are a bit more maybe interactive or have activities in them. And we also do a preference record to short lectures throughout the week, rather than have just one larger one.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  08:21

Is there a best practice you suggest for how long a lecture should be?

Daniel Maday  08:27

I try to benchmark it with how it would be face to face, my seven week course. So my lectures tend to be a bit longer. And that’s knowing that students tend to skip around from them. And I try to give them some very good audio cues on the lectures to know what content as well. So for instance, I usually have a review of last week’s assignments, given some feedback on the papers they have turned in. We look a bit beyond the reading part of the topics and then wrap up with the next assignments. So plenty people just skip to the end, figure out what’s doing Next week, but being very clear and edited about that is great, because end of the day, you want to get what they need. And you can always go back later.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  09:11

What what’s the ratio? In general of students who actually attend the live lectures versus those who attend asynchronous?

Daniel Maday  09:22

That ranges a bit by semester, I’ll be honest, the first time around, I was only about five to one. And part of that was because a lot of students simply weren’t used to it. I was one of the first ones to kind of do it in the program. And over time, I noticed that students start to talk to each other and then that’s we have a lot more interest. Okay, we’re in to things that way.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  09:48

Yeah, all of a sudden, this becomes a lot more popular delivery method. Now, you said five to one. So you said in the beginning, I just want to clarify it. It’s about five people attending, quote, unquote, the recording versus for every one person that’s attending live. Was that right?

Daniel Maday  10:03

Oh, sorry, I flipped that one to five.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  10:05

Okay. And then when you’re lecturing or when you’re presenting? Are you facilitating a discussion with those who attend live? Or is it more of a talking heads sage on the stage kind of situation?

Daniel Maday  10:21

I try to avoid the wider as much as I can. It really depends on how many people in the lecture there have been a few, but it’s only been one or two. So it forced them to be the spotlight. But there’s a few different inflection points they plan in. These are in the slides. So even if they’re listening later on, they will get some discussion questions and think, Well, what do I think and I actually even tell them to pause the recording and just write down thoughts just as part of the listing process. What really comes into play though, is I have a very experimental design for my course. I tend to change around a bit every semester and explain what’s changed just so they know that the input is goes into the instructional design elements of the content. But with that in mind, I tried to get them to not only share the correct answers, but a lot more of their opinions, applications and going forward in the future, have them had a bit more of civil debates. So I tried to give them a position and argue for it. How I started off open asking is training more of an art or science, great responses on both ends. And going forward. The plan is to give them a bit more of an assignment saying, Here is your position. How would you defend that if that’s what you had to do? Learn plate skills just to see some more perspective.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  11:43

So what kind of feedback do you get from students when you deliver in this format, so less about, you know, the actual conversation about the content and engagement with the ideas but the feedback on you know what their experience is like attending, you know, your online line or hybrid.

Daniel Maday  12:04

It’s gonna vary by student but frankly, a lot of them are surprised. I hate to be so pessimistic, but the bar is a bit low. So as you might be a bit nervous transitioning things here, there’s plenty of courses that simply have nothing I can tell you right now, even your first maybe a very nervous attempt will be much better than having nothing and having students confused. Secondly, there’s some very old slides and recordings out there that some professors used to use the embedded audio recording option and believe it’s PowerPoint 2010. Hmm. As you could imagine, not the best recording. So really, as long as you can hear your voice clearly, a lot of tools right now which are uploading to YouTube or using Ensembl actually do auto transcriptions for you. And they’re not perfect, but they’re pretty good to follow along with And more than anything else, even if you don’t feel it when you’re recording, having that similar voice every week really does help students and make them feel connected. So that want to maybe give them a poll in semester if they’ve fallen off. And if you miss a few assignments, they recognize the voice, they feel much more comfortable.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  13:18

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense that creates a sense of unity across the coursework, and it gives them sort of a home base to return to in a way that it wouldn’t be if it were, you know, seven modules by seven different people or seven different formats, that kind of thing. People just sort of get used to your voice and your delivery style, and then it becomes kind of a cue for them to learn. I wonder what if you could go back, he talked about experimenting with your course design, which I think is very cool, and you’re constantly changing things up, trying out new things and trying to make things better If you could go back and talk to yourself before the first time you did this, what’s the one piece of advice you would give yourself now?

Daniel Maday  14:10

Relax, just relax. It’s gonna be okay.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  14:16

Great advice. Well, Daniel, I want to thank you very much for sharing this. I know it’s gonna be helpful to a lot of people. And I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today.

Daniel Maday  14:27

Pleasure to have you