Tech-ing Outside My Comfort Zone

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This Teaching Story was written by Claire Palvetzian (Business). This is a follow up to Kim Carter’s original post “How I Experimented with FlipGrid, it Blew Up, and the Learning was Beautiful.”

This past fall I was assigned a course called Communications in Health Care. I have taught this course before, however, now, one of the major assignments had been tweaked to incorporate a new tech tool called Flip Grid.

As a partial load instructor I’m currently balancing my 12 hours per week of in class teaching, 15-20 hours per week working at a clinic part time, and 10+ hours per week working on completing my masters of education. So, obviously I have extra time on my hands to learn new tools and implement them into my lesson plans, right?

a cluttered desk with a person working
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Good thing I have a deep rooted passion for life long learning and mentors like Kim Carter (@kcarte02) to show me that new tools can have enormous pay offs for both faculty and students!

The assignment requires students to come up with a health care scenario whereby therapeutic communication tools are identified in both positive and negative situations. When I taught this course in the past, this assignment was performed in class as a live skit, however, Kim implemented Flip Grid to allow students to record their scenarios, upload the videos to our section, and be able to comment on one another’s assignment using video chats. When I met with Kim prior to the semester, she explained the app and her experience using it for the first time.

I left the meeting thinking, “This all sounds great, but: A) when am I going to fit in the time to teach myself how to use this app and set up my section?? B) I am aggressively medium in terms of tech skills! And C) What if this is an epic failure and I end up looking like a fool in front of my students??

C. Paveltzian

These negative thoughts stuck with me for several days until the semester got underway and I decided to take action. I met with the fabulous Jesslyn Wilkinson (@jesslyndw), who walked me through downloading and navigating the app, setting up my section, and practiced recording mock videos. Jesslyn reassured me that when the time came in class when I was going to have students upload and play their skits, that she would be available for telephone technical support. Phewf, it’s good to have good people who have your back!

Similar to Kim’s experience, the uploading and playing of skits did not go smoothly. We had issues uploading the files and I felt the pressure of a thousand eyes on me at the front of the class. Although I was able to reach Jesslyn via telephone, my error was not one that she had seen before and offered a few alternative solutions to playing the videos outside of the app.

Instead of panicking, I turned this challenge onto my students, and asked them to whip out their phones and see who was able to find a solution to our tech issue.

As it turns out, one of the students found our key error and all assignments were successfully uploaded and played in class using Flip Grid. I reminded students that my experience using the app for the first time and having technical difficulties is something they will have to navigate in the workplace.

I know that by staying calm (on the outside…), and turning the moment into a lesson, that I showed an example of resilience for these students.

Heading in to the winter semester, I smile when I see my course assignments… 3 sections of Communications in Health Care. I look forward to using this app again with more confidence than last semester, and know I have a team behind me for support.

Reflecting on this experience, I am reminded of the importance of stepping outside my comfort zone for the betterment of my teaching practice.

As an avid runner and strength trainer, I relate the mental and physical challenges of training with that of teaching. I cannot expect to get stronger or run faster, without adding more weight to the barbell or increasing the treadmill speed every once and a while. Is it uncomfortable? Yes. Am I scared of failing? You bet. But just like my teaching practice, true growth occurs when you step outside the comfort zone. I feel pride knowing that I’ve added a new tech tool to my repertoire that many students in semesters to come with benefit from.

Thank you for taking the time to read my personal experience using Flip Grid. I hope that  by sharing my internal struggles navigating time and fear of failing, but ultimately a positive experience, allows some of you to take a leap and try something new.

Read more about Kim’s experience assessing with FlipGrid

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